It’s no secret that graphic design and web design are different animals. And despite how far the web has come in terms of flexibility, there are still limitations.
For example, CSS has created a complex layout. But responsiveness and accessibility must also be taken into account. Something that can withstand different devices and use cases requires a lot of care.
This can be difficult for seasoned web designers to manage. But if you’re coming from the world of print design, the challenge is even greater.
For those making the transition from print to the web, this article is for you. We’ll offer some tips on what topics to study, potential pitfalls, and some key concepts to remember.
Look Under the Hood and Find Out What the Web Does
The web is full of visual tools that allow building websites without writing code. They make the design and construction processes easier. It’s okay to use them.
However, getting to know HTML and CSS is well worth your time. They are fundamental aspects of web design. Understanding how they work will give you an advantage when using codeless tools.
As good as these tools are, they are not perfect. And there will probably be occasions when the results will not be what you expected. A working knowledge of these languages can be of great help in solving problems.
For example, consider a layout that looks great on a desktop device but not on a phone. If you have some background knowledge on CSS Grid or Flexbox you may be able to diagnose and resolve the issue.
Fortunately, coding expertise is not a requirement. But a little knowledge can go a long way.
Keep Your Designs Simple to Start With
A talented graphic designer can produce amazing work. Intricate layouts, perfectly positioned features, layer upon layer of textures. The possibilities are endless.
These effects are possible on the web, just as they are in print. But if you’re just getting started with web design, embrace simplicity first.
Effective web design must work on all devices. It must also be easy to read and navigate – regardless of the user’s screen or physical ability.
Being a little too ambitious with web layout comes at a cost. Sometimes, they don’t keep up on mobile devices. Or they may do more harm than good when it comes to accessibility.
So, there’s no need to pressure yourself into building a complex design right off the bat. Starting small allows room for growth. You can always add those extra bells and whistles as you gain experience.
One of the biggest differences between print and web design is the intended audience. You could, for example, design a business card and print 1,000 copies. Everyone who receives your card will experience it in much the same way.
Not so on the web. There are different devices, internet connection speeds, assistive technologies, and web browsers. Not to mention that people from all over the world can access your website. And let’s not forget about the search engines that will index your content.
In practice, we build websites for an untold number of use cases. We don’t necessarily know how each individual user will access a site, but we can do some predictive analysis.
Data is there to help us find out more about how people use the web. In the broadest sense, it can tell us the most popular web browsers, screen sizes and operating systems, among other useful statistics.
For existing websites, tools such as Google Analytics can provide insight into who is visiting your website and how they found it.
The idea is that when you know your users, you can create a website that gives them the best possible experience. The more you learn about them, the more you can meet their needs.
Put Your Talents in a New Medium
If you already have an eye for design, you can start building on the web. And knowledge of tools such as Figma and Photoshop will also come in handy.
But web design is indeed a different discipline. And you may run into roadblocks trying to make sense of its unique challenges. But know that almost every other web designer has gone through the same thing.
All told, the transition from print to web is as much about perspective as it is about skills. That’s why it’s important to have a basic understanding of how web technologies work. Starting with a solid foundation, you’ll probably have an easier time understanding the differences.
From there, the aim is to start with some simple projects. Experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Determine how typical users will view your work and continue to refine the experience to satisfy them.
Overall, take advantage of the many resources available. Tutorials and code references can help you get past those rough spots. And there’s an online community you can lean on for guidance.
Over time, designing for the web can become like second nature. Just practice!