Differences between internet and print design

Posted on December 21st, 2018 | Tags: Design, Technology

I am the first to admit that online marketing is the dominant form of advertising these days. I have written articles saying this very point. Printed marketing hasn’t gone away though, and in fact is still the most effective form in several situations. The problem is that these days that designers are trained to think of digital media first and physical media as poor second. This is a dangerous mindset to have. Given how much more expensive it is to replace a poorly designed flyer or business card than to fix a website and how the long the ‘damage’ to a company’s ‘brand’ can last after the error has been corrected, this is a mistake you do not want to make. So here are a few simple rules to remember when it comes to designing your marketing.

Select your clipart and images for print first, then convert to digital second

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been given company logos pulled from their website to use on a business card, then get complaints that the print quality is bad. No matter how advance the computer/phone/tv screen, it will always come a poor second to the resolution found in print. Screen graphics are set to 96dpi, where the human eye sees at less than 300dpi, and we print at 600/1200dpi.  So a image that looks fine on screen will look at least three times as blocky/grainy in print.Design logos design for print first, and scale them down for screen use, as people are more forgiving if the edges of the art on the screen is blurred than if it is on a page. When buying photographic stock images or clipart, buy the largest you can afford as it’s easier for computers to throw out unused bits of graphics on the screen or printed page by scaling it down, than having to fill in the gaps between the bits when it’s scaled up. If you are unsure, just zoom in by 300% on your design and if it looks grainy on the screen it’s going to be grainy in print. We cover it here if you want to learn more.

Bleed and Margins, you need them

Another ongoing problem is that with many online design systems that are free to use, the are focused screen first and print second. So they won’t show settings for bleed and margins unless you look for them. This is a big problem, as that is very important to have them if you want the best out of your printing. It’s so important that it was one of our first blog articles back in 2011. That article is still good so have a read of it for more about what are bleed and margins are and how to make sure you have them. Case in point, our own online design studio software is setup so you can’t help but make your design to have bled and margins to ensure the best print quality

Designing for the page verses for the scroll

‘Below the fold’ , that is a newspaper industry term used to describe how important an article is on a front page of the newspaper. If it on the section that is face down when the paper is folded and stacked, then it’s not as important at the items at the top which are used to get people to buy the paper. In the modern marketing industry I like to use the terms, ‘below the scroll’ for online media. The key eye catching area is the section that first shows on the page. This is the first bit that everyone reads before deciding if they want to scroll down to read more. The truth is a vast majority won’t so you have to make the sell in that first screen full. Which is complicated by the fact you don’t know what size screen and other factors which make it hard to manage the flow of information so things have to be short and punchy in that first few paragraphs. With print you have much more control. You have a fixed size, number of sides / panels to break the information down into easily digestible sized chunks. You don’t have to fight to fit everything into a unknown space so it gives you the room to spread things out, make it easy to read, do more interesting things with the design. Every detail of the design is under your control so it makes sense to exploit it for all that is worth.

Online is interactive, print is tactile

The web is just data and can be made to do anything you want. So you can design your online marketing to include videos, questionnaires and interactive product selection, pull things in from your social media feed, and so much more. But it’s all just so many button clicks or finger taps making it feel no different to any other website. And you have to be ‘brash’ to keep people’s attention or they will click away to another site. (I don’t know about you, but sites that start using my expensive data to throw auto playing videos at me I didn’t even click on annoy the heck out of me.)  With print you are fixed in the content in what you do, but you can make it feel different from everyone else. The choice of colours, papers/cards and their finishes, how it’s folded or bound, all effect how it feels to the client. You can go further by getting things cut to interesting shapes, mixing different papers types and sizes in the same item to add to the wow factor. Most importantly it’s not intrusive because you know the customer already has it in their hands so you can take the time to get the point across.

These have been the more common examples of what to be wary of when designing for print over designing for the internet. We cover more aspects of this in our blog here. If you would like a more one to one discussion on this or other matters of marketing design then book a time with us at Copy Express and we will be more than happy to help you out.