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The Difference Between Web and Print

Many Web design artists come to the Web already having a print background. They were either print artists, or they are simply used to the control that a print world gives. When you print something, it turns out to be permanent and stable. That does not happen with Web.
The problem is, that it's really easy to forget. While you build your Web site and have a trial run in your browser, you get it looking just the way you want it to look. However, then you test it in another browser, and it appears to be different. And if you switch to a different platform, it will look differently again.
Being a designer, you have to consider users. You will be doing them and yourself a disservice if you don't get the difference between print and the Web. Especially if you bring your portfolio as print outs. This is a common problem, where the customer expects the printout to represent exactly what the page will look like.
What To Do
Working with Customers
  • Printouts for your Portfolio It is always important to make a portfolio, but consider that the Web is not print, and bringing a printed page is not a strong example of your Web site development skills.
  • Defining Expectations Be fair with your clients. If they like their site to have very certain layout, font, and design elements, be sure to explain the tradeoffs such as download speed and editing prior to simply building them a completely graphical site.
  • Know what the customer uses If you're a large Firefox or Mac addict, and your client only uses IE for Windows, you need to remember in your project. Your page could look dramatically different to them.
Design Tips
  • Study your audience Know the details of the audience of the site you're building. If they are propeller-heads, they probably browse in Unix on a 21 inch screen. Or if they are more conservative they might own a 12 inch monitor working with Internet Explorer 3. If you design a page that suits your audience, your customer won't be complaining to you later.
  • Don't forget to test Test your ideas in all the browser and OS combination that you manage to access. Emulators work if you don't have other options, but you can't find a substitute for a real experience.
  • Remember about resolution Browsers and OS are important, but if your readers and customers are browsing on a smaller screen than you use, they will be unpleasantly surprised

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