Web design may be a relatively new concentration in comparison to the other forms of design, however there are a number of things it shares in common with publication design. The long standing practices and theories of publication design can be applied to web design to help create more interesting and effective sites. By grasping these traits you can create sites that have an sophistication far superior than your competition.
Templates and style sheets
Both web and publication design share a rigid design template that determines the overall look and feel of the content. Great publication design creates a template that allows the designers to find creativity and flexibility within the template system. This is necessary in order for the designers to create spreads that are interesting from article to article without becoming boring and expected. Web designers can learn from this practice by creating style sheets that offer enough flexibility for the varied presentation of content while remaining consistent throughout the site. Too often web design is predictable and boring because of the nature of the software and limitations in development time.
It’s all about the tempo
Publication design is about splitting up the content into absorbable pieces. Images, pull quotes, typography and headings are all tools used to break up content and also add interest to the page. In web design, pages should be broken down into smaller chunks in order to make content more visually appealing and approachable. These tactics also help highlight the most important elements in the content and encourage deeper reading.
Design doesn’t determine success
Publication designers are some of the first to admit that design will not save bad content. There are hundreds of articles on this subject alone pertaining to blog design so it is not necessary to get into too much detail, however great design should enhance the content not try to redeem it. As a designer it may be hard to swallow the idea that design isn’t the most important thing, but do you want to take responsibility for the failure of bad writing?
Redesigns are about more than changing appearance
Publications go to great lengths to determine which sections are the most effective and which are overlooked by the readers. Analysis is used to determine whether these sections should stay or be replaced and which items should receive the most focus. In web design, usability testing and site analytics can be used to help achieve these same results. These statistics can also help us determine which functions or content is the most effective, or which areas should be featured more prominently throughout the site.
I’m not a publication designer by practice so if there more items that I have missed that you feel relevant, please feel free to share them in the comments below.