Did You Know

I work with a small team of designers inside a very large ad agency (http://www.bernstein-rein.com). Like most ad agencies they focus primarily on print and broadcast. Having a small web division can sometimes cause confusion between the different mediums.

I never really realized how different web was from print and broadcast until my time at an agency. So I’ve compiled a quick list of a few items that I think set web apart. I could go into more detail but for the sake of brevity I kept them general and to the point.

  1. Font Families When setting copy we’re limited to a handful of fonts that natively exist on peoples computers. This means your Hiragino Kaku Gothic Pro W6 is out of the question.
  2. Typography Unfortunately type sucks on the web but it’s getting better. We use a programming language called Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to define the properties of typography. CSS has its advantages and limitations. These limitations include no kerning and no word spacing. Sad but true.
  3. Programming To make that graphic fly across the screen requires an understanding of math, physics and logic. In one way or another this holds true for everything you see on the web. Code is the underlying support beams, rivets, and concrete. It’s the dirty part of the job that no one wants to witness. More time goes into programming than any part of the job.
  4. Testing Imagine testing a new car design on 7 different types of roads. Some roads are too thin, some are comfortably wide, some with speed bumps and some that defy the laws of nature. This is similar to making sure a website works in different browsers. This can be the most frustrating phase.
  5. Usability Web is more similar to product design than any other type of design. If you’re going to design a toaster you better be damn sure someone knows where to put the toast. Easier said than done. This is where a majority of web design fails. Art is for the wall, design provides solutions.
  6. Impermanent The web is a living thing. There is no such thing as a permanent website. If you’re waiting for perfection, stop, you won’t find it. If you go live with a design and you find a mistake, fix it. It’s not like finding a mistake after printing 50,000 copies.
  7. Audience If your site doesn’t change frequently people won’t come back.
  8. Traffic If you build it, they will NOT come. It’s like building a store in the middle of Kansas and expecting everyone to know about it. Bullshit! Banners, search engine placement, word of mouth, and a good product will bring you the audience you so desire.
  9. Copy People don’t like reading while starring into a huge light bulb. The message should be short, clear, and memorable. Much like the broadcast medium. Only the die hards and those that don’t suffer from ADD will read.
  10. 72dpi No more no less. Deal with it.

Sorry if this seems to be preaching to the choir but I felt the need to get this out in the open.