Skill sets between web design and print design

Designers today are confronted with many challenges particularly those in transition between the world of print and the world of web. The skill sets between web design and print design are very different and designers considering the transition should be aware of this.

Print designers will have developed skills that demand knowledge of CMYK, lithography print techniques that are based on the use of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black), bleed and crop, which means any colour that would be flush to the edge of any physical print should be printed with excess colour so that the print can be cut off giving the desired effect.

The addition of extra colours known as spot colours also requires knowledge. Pagination needs to be in multiples of 4 simply because a piece of paper can be folded and  printed both sides. There is a major difference between colours when designs are printed in magazines and newspapers because the ink reacts in a different way due to the stock it’s printed on. Print designers will have a deep understanding and knowledge of all of these things based on either education or experience and the artwork that they produce will reflect those disciplines. Artwork produced without the required bleed or RGB images when CMYK is required are signs of someone’s lack of knowledge or incompetence.

Unlike print the web is stateless, web pages are more fluid so the web designer coming from the print world needs to have a complete memory reset. Things like load times, document types, browsers, operating systems, image formats, fluid design for responsive design, workarounds, degradation, fallbacks, server configurations are just some of the things that web designers think about.

There are more mobiles sold today than computers and that should say a lot about the future of the web in general. Web designers think about this and there are practices in place to handle this but, the question is should web designers be designing for the web or for the mobile? That statement right there just goes to show how fluid the world of the web is. Today’s problems and solutions are way different in the world of the web than they were 5 years ago and things will probably be different in 5 years into the future too!

The conclusion to this is that, for print, as designers we know exactly where we stand because things haven’t change much for a long time, lithography uses the same principle and tangible print is… well tangible. The world of the web however is still evolving and is not tangibly standardised!