Friday, May 26, 2006

Graphic Design VS Website Design - Oh, the Interactivity!

Yes, I'm back again to share a few more of my observations on this topic - the differences between graphic design (i.e. designing for more traditional print media - newspaper, brochure, flyers, billboards, fleet graphics, etc.) and website design. I'm learning a great deal here at, so I thought it would make sense to share.

With the notable exception of the pop-up book (which, even at 35, I still think are super cool), there is not one example of traditional print media that offers anything like true interactivity with the user/observer. It is a very static media with a very passive interaction with the user (I won't get drawn off onto a tangent about e-ink, though I may cover that at another time as print and web media begin to converge with the help of this technology). Not that it doesn't have it's place, and not that it won't be around for the foreseeable future. It is still necessary to use creativity, talent, and skill to create engaging and effective graphic design. But the passivity of the media is its largest drawback.

By contrast, website design offers a range of options and a level of engagement that far surpass print media and conventional graphic design on many levels.
To be able to use full color images with no additional overhead (i.e. printing costs) is huge of itself. To be able to just as freely use interactive navigation elements (buttons, rollover images, pop-up or pull-down menus) provides an important interaction beyond just the basic appearance - the knowledge that you are steering your own course through the information, that you are allowed, and invited, to make choices. Add to that an enormous selection of other engaging media that can enhance or amplify the message of your design - music, sound effects, animation, movies, etc. - and you have a wealth of options far beyond those possible in graphic design/print media.

We are all familiar with the studies that show how more information is retained and greater interest generated by a message when more of our senses are engaged by it. So graphic design caters to our primary sense - sight. That is important, but employing motion and sound take it to a much higher level. And with the impending releases of other web enabled devices like the iSmell and SENX machines - you will be able to engage people's senses of smell and even taste. Try that with your newspaper and see if it makes the content more interesting!

I submit that there is a more important sense that is utilized by website design and all that is has to offer - the sense of choice.

Website design stands out as one of the most engaging means that we can communicate ideas and information short of person to person contact. That you would have something meaningful to communicate about......well, that's a topic for another blog. Regardless of your message, your business, or your level of experience - is more than capable of bringing this powerful and engaging media to serve your needs.


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