Cross-media publishing is certainly one of the hottest catch phrases in the graphic communications industry. Although most people will admit that print is not exactly dead, there is little doubt that digital media at the very least have become legitimate communicating channels for companies to broadcast their message.
Regardless of which media are being used, the message must still be presented clearly and attractively, in other words: design still needs to support the message. The internet is a very different medium than print from a design perspective.
Web design has its own set of rules, which are sometimes very different than the ones followed for print design. Here are some examples:
- Color management: this is non-existent because you simply can’t calibrate the monitor of every web user.
- Font management: fonts can be controlled to some extent, but without converting all type to graphics — potentially making your site inaccessible to anyone with a slow connection — your pages might be displayed in whatever font the user defines instead of the one you so carefully selected.
- Print limitations: Some print formatting options are not supported in HTML (kerning, tracking, and locking to the baseline are just a few examples).
The hours you spend adjusting and fine-tuning a layout for print are all but wasted when you convert the layout for web distribution.
- End-user variability: If you follow the rules when designing for print, every printed piece will look exactly the same when they come off the press (WYSIWYG). Designing for the web is not so static. The variables involved in web distribution — including different platforms, monitors, and browsers used by the end consumer — mean that what you see and what they see might be entirely different.
With the inherent differences between print and digital media, there is no instant solution to converting print design to web design. Using the tools built into DTP programs, however, smoothes many of the bumps along the road.