Designing for print and web, the benefits of being a multi-disciplined designer.

The main point I’ve learnt since extending my trade from the world of print into the world of web is that essentially, I’m still doing the same thing. I’m still trying to come up with the best ideas complimented visually by the best design I can, the differences are mainly technical. As Massimo Vignelli said ‘if you can design one thing, you can design everything‘.

The distinctions between the two mediums are obvious for all to see but there are definite similarities that bring these two disciplines closer together. Having the capabilities to cater for both can be very good for business… ours and yours.

Having the aptitude and skills for more than one speciality is nothing new and designers have been doing it for years. You don’t have to go too far back to look at the work achieved in design by Charles and Ray Eames. Having some of the worlds most recognisable furniture and being Oscar winners for a short film is no mean feat at all. In more recent times, the work of Julian House at Intro has seen him produce brilliant music videos for the likes of Primal Scream and Doves and at the same time create inspiring album cover art for the same bands and more.

As one of three designers at Nvisage and coming from a background in print, it has been an interesting challenge getting to know the ins and outs of a new format. Although I’ve always been confident in my design ability, transferring them to a brand new set of rules has been the most taxing aspect as I had to learn about accessibility, usability and functionality. However, with the success of the Parson, Son & Basley website and the recently launched Moat website, I can see that I can transfer my skills from one area to another successfully and that can only be a good thing.

It was also long due that I worked outside the familiar setting of a traditional print studio full of beautiful Macs, endless supplies of paper stock and unhealthy obsessions with haircuts. Working as an in-house designer at a web development agency, I now work solely on PCs, I’m inundated with and endless stream of jargon and the obsessions are more along the lines of functionality than style (haircuts included).

The most beneficial part of working with web is the great team of developers I can work along side to bring my designs to life. This has enabled me to produce design that has the most appropriate balance of look, feel and functionality. Having a website that works perfectly is of the essence but first impressions are always important and it’s always essential to create a good user experience.

For the client, I think knowing that they are working alongside an agency that can cater for all their needs is a comforting thought as we have the ability to keep a consistency in the quality of the design, web marketing, programming and SEO. Communication between all the departments is a very easy process indeed and one of great importance.

When it comes down to it, web and print do have their own individual merits. With web there is instant feedback from instant outcomes and it’s also easier to find out whether a website is performing to its full means and even test how it performs. A client can undertake changes at anytime which is impossible with a completed printed product with out the need for a reprint at great cost. With print, there is much more choice in terms of format, font, size and material and in my opinion there is nothing like the smell of fresh ink. However, for me and for the client, the idea is king and thankfully that extends across all formats and I can enjoy the best of both worlds.

By Chris Lewis