Paper vs. Pixels – Part 3

It’s fun being a Web Developer because we’re right in the thick of it all. I once defined a Web Developer as the team member with the most software. Webdev’s are in the middle of a triangle between (1) Project Management/Business, (2) Design and (3) Engineering. Therefore, we use all their software, and often act as liaison between the groups. I often use:

  • Photoshop and Illustrator, tools of the Designers trade
  • InDesign and Viseo, tools of the Interaction Designers trade
  • MS Project, Excel, PowerPoint – tools of the Project Manager
  • Apache, PHP, MySQL, vi, SecureCRT – tools of the Engineer
  • Homesite, about 30 browsers, validators, and various small tools like sruler, Iconico…

Anyways, one of the more common questions a Webdev gets asked relates to the different between designing and building for The Web versus the controlled and familiar world of Print.

I’ve been reading Web Page Design for Designers for years now, and in this months issue Joe talks about just that in part 3 of Paper vs. Pixels. It’s worth a read, as he covers key points including:

Apart from providing an index or glossary, navigation is not usually an issue in print. …

Unless you produce comics that require special 3D glasses, print never requires on the reader having a ‘plug-in’.

Once the artwork has left your studio, duly checked for correctness and signed-off, what you get depends on the printer. There are lots of variables but you will have certain expectations and decent printers will do their best to meet them. If they don’t, you will have good cause to complain and if they don’t satisfy you, stand a good chance of losing future business.

The equivalent of a printer on the Web is the browser, the piece of software that interprets your instructions and displays it as a page on a computer screen. Just in the same way that you wouldn’t expect different printers to produce identical results from the same artwork, browsers won’t either. Sadly, there will probably be a much greater divergence in browser results than you would expect from printers.

This installment, the third, covers Navigation, Plug-ins, Browsers, and Multimedia. For the full story, be sure to read the earlier Part 1 (The ever-changing screen, Statistics, and Judging a design on
your own screen) and Part 2 (Font sizes, Colours change, and Resolution).