Metamorphosis II – Print Media to Web Media

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

UI design vs Graphic Design

Much has been talked and discussed about this transformation. My journey too faced some interesting challenge from my role as a graphic designer to user interface designer. At the initial phase especially within the boundaries of the institute we mostly concentrated on print media. Starting from the learning about different papers, printing processes and colour fixing techniques.

The main criteria was the size of the paper and how we presented the layout. Our main concern as a designer was how the colour was printed. This turned out to be a very tricky process and we still strive towards perfection.

Thus when I shifted to work for the web based company I thought the hassles of dealing with the print quality would not bother anymore. Finally I could apply the WYSWIG principle ‘What you see is what you get’. Little did I know that grass on the other side is never actually greener. In the web we were dealing with the intangible virtual world. Here there was no more inches and centimeter everything was measured in pixels and points.

The entire evolution in print industry moves in a much slower pace than compared to the web. In web probably every minute someone somewhere is recreating something path breaking. The initial phase was like a whirlwind romance where I moved with the wind in a completely love- hate relationship. Everyday my list of new words and terms kept growing, it still does. In simple terms it was a complete paradigm shift for me.

I came to terms with magnanimity of the two words which form basis of all – “User Interface” &  “User Experience“. I realized how it was not just layout of websites but creating an entire experience for the user. True in print we too created an experience but as some refer, it is a 2 dimensional experience. We can feel the paper, turn it and hold on to it.

Web on the other hand is 1 dimensional or can cross all barriers to be multi dimensional. The attention span of both media remained constant as it was user dependent. The difference lies on the fact that in print usually its more of selective vision as we guide the user to view things in a particular order through typography and design elements. Its similar in web but what we often overlook is the fact that the Web design functions by letting the hands move the information (by scrolling or clicking). Information relationships are expressed temporally as part of an interaction and user movement.

Our main goal is to make sure the user spends more time on the particular page and trick lies in the fact that they should not be aware of it. Coming to this topic another thing worth mentioning is the fact of keeping your page ‘light’. In print we never bothered what elements we put as long as it visually communicated and appealed. Aesthetics played high on our priorities. In web every small element has to be measured in terms of size and the time taken to load. Like they say size always matters!

In print the final output was a result of the pre press process similarly in web the design created by the visual designer is passed to the developer. Most times it would surprise you the constraints laid out to you based on the web browsers and technical glitches. But like I said the web is developing every minute and the more visual aesthetics come into play the more ways are created to bring the designs as close to the templates given for reference.

Print and web both are two sides of the coin which require clear and effective layout. In both there is use of elements of design (shapes, lines, colors, type, etc) to present content to your audience. So once I let go off my initial inhibitions and preconceived notions, I started enjoying it. We can never write something off judging by its cover. It only grows on you once you spend time with it.

Never judge a book by its cover!

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