With the advent of responsive web design, designers and developers have ditched most of the print techniques and ways of thinking. While I’ll be the first to agree that designing for print and designing for web are completely different and moving further apart, there’s still so much we can learn from it.
It’s important to remember that design principles aren’t limited to a specific field, we can apply these rules and find ways to break them in whatever field we are in. The fast evolution of the web can often times get in the way. We get lost in all the new technologies and lose site of our actual output, even worse we go out of our way to implement things just because everyone’s raving about them in blogs. To really change the web we need to find inspiration outside of it, we need to learn from other mediums and understand how they were able to solve problems and communicate effectively.
Don’t be blinded by code
Know when to challenge development
When you’re looking at design on print during a creative, you see design without the limits of development. You can, for a brief second, imagine the web as a utopian pixel perfect world. Now that we are literally flooded with millions of displays, the thought of pixel perfect design has completely died. But just because a certain design sketch could lead to bad code doesn’t mean we have to abandon the idea all together. Limiting ourselves to the confines of development can be a dangerous thing. It will often lead to predictable and overly gridded designs. Now I’m not saying ignore the limitations of development all together. All I’m saying is to be open for anything during your research and when the time comes, try to challenge the limitations of development.
Typography & Vertical Rhythm
Don’t try to act like you’re in InDesign
The sad truth is that we might have to wait a bit longer for type to become easier to work with on the web. However, there are still plenty of ways to have beautiful typography. Lately, most designers and developers have been relying too heavily on computed ways to solve problems such as vertical rhythm and kerning. Spacing on the web will always be difficult due to the various ways browsers will render them. We have to be careful when using these tools because if we overuse them or rely too heavily on them, our designs could suffer.
Just basing typography on numbers alone isn’t the right way to go. It relies so heavily on what something looks like and the visual relationships that you’re trying to make, a baseline grid is much too rigid to have that work.
– Jason Santa Maria
The control you have with copy is nothing compared to what print has. When you’re looking at print for inspiration, the details will more than likely be impossible to achieve. You’ll usually find yourself reaching to some sort of compromise with the development. What we can do is learn how print was able to achieve great compositions. We can try and expose ourselves to what good line height or leading looks like, or what amount of kerning works best for specific typefaces. By absorbing and being aware of what works and what doesn’t work, we can make better decisions when we’re in the browser. What print can do for us is that it can show us what good typography looks like without boundaries.
Learning From The Static
Improving the content-first approach