Print is the New Web

Elliot Jay Stocks is going to tell us what Web design can learn from print design. Pshwaw! We don’t need that dirty dead tree stuff, do we?

He’s showing some very pretty pictures of book covers. A lot of them are from George Orwell books. Elliot confesses that he’s not a huge Orwell fan. For shame! George Orwell is my hero.

Down to brass tacks. Print design gives you a lot of freedom. There’s the freedom to use large areas of whitespace, unusual layouts, bold imagery and typography as well as breaking outside of the grid.

People talk about a long-established design for print while Web is all new. But Elliot thinks that isn’t the case. Web design is built on the same history as print design. To take that further, both are built upon the history of art.

It was Flash that first got Elliot interested in the Web. It was very visual. He quotes Jeff Croft from a comment on one of Khoi’s post when he said that the appeal of Flash is that has a similar interface and vocabulary to Photoshop and other design tools.

Here’s Conclave Obscurum. It’s a Flash site that has stood the test of time well. It’s got weird shaky text and other deliberate glitches but it’s engaging. But what purpose do these deliberate glitches serve? Well, they break the mold. They create a pleasant level of tension, like watching a whodunnit.

Coba Hair is non-Flash site that does some interesting stuff. Then there’s the Seed Conference site which almost like a step back to playbills. Revyver is brave in not slapping a logo in the big space at the top.

Now comes what Elliot calls the poncey bit: narrative in Web design. He begins by quoting Khoi.

No-one Belongs Here More Than You has a great narrative structure. Shaun builds narrative by using colour and more importantly, fading older content.

The poncey narrative theory begins with Freytag’s list:

  1. Exposition
  2. Rising action
  3. Climax (turning point)
  4. Falling action
  5. Denouement

How does this translate to Web design?

  1. Structure
  2. Tension
  3. Stand-out elements
  4. Balance
  5. The overall aesthetic

Let’s talk about business cards. Elliot loves them. He’s showing his favourites. But your home page is not your business card. Neither is your navigation or your contact page. Your design is your business card.

To summarise, there are two tangents in Web design: Flash and HTML/CSS. There should be more crossover between the two. We should be embracing the freedoms of print design. Narrative is lacking in a lot of (non-Flash) websites. Bur more than anything: you impress not just with good design but with brave design. Take things that you wouldn’t normally do (often from a different medium) and apply them to the Web.

Elliot finishes by asking us to join him for a drink tonight to help him celebrate leaving Carsonified. As he says, woo-hoo!

Have you published a response to this? :