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Using the web

May 1st, 2008 / By: / Graphics

Businesses today need to use the Web in partnership with print. Both mediums have strengths and weaknesses, so finding just the right balance can save your company money, and strengthen your brand.

Web strengths

Web design is one-dimensional and a scrolling experience for the user. Moving around is what the Web is about; Web design needs to be interactive to keep it interesting. In fact, readers have come to expect it.

Each Web user can personalize his or her experience by increasing or decreasing type size and changing fonts for ease in readability.

Web sites are easier, cheaper, and faster to update than print. Theyare dynamic and can be refined quickly; changes are effortless, and color is cheap.

Web weaknesses

Each computer and Web browser is different. Downloading pages can be frustrating for users with less bandwidth, so smaller graphics are a good idea until everyone has top speed. Design should be kept simple unless the product merits more complicated work.

Reading from a monitor is 25 percent slower than reading from print, so readers like short paragraphs. Web users are active, not passive; if they don’t see it fast, they will leave. The longer the text, the less likely someone is to read it. Web users skim copy, ignore details, and read fast while jumping around.

Web sites need to change often to keep readers interested, and claims need to be backed up, because readers don’t believe everything they see.

Print strengths

Anyone can put up a Web site to sell anything. Printed material makes it more legitimate. Web surfers give a site’s page a few seconds before moving on or passing judgment, while a printed publication gets more time and attention.

Print design is two-dimensional, with more attention to layout. More fonts and graphics can be used and controlled, and color is consistent and can be pre-determined.

Print design is based on letting the eye move over information, selectively looking at objects and using space to enhance page elements to make it more refined. Print controls the reader.

Print weaknesses

Print can be more expensive and takes longer to change, and it often means added costs with postage and mailing. Print can’t respond as fast; for changing information, the Web is faster.

Print isn’t always available where or when the customer wants it, but the Web can be accessed anywhere, any time.

Conclusion

A print designer makes art the priority. Web design makes content the priority. A Web site is about providing information and making money, but the most successful Web site may not look as stunning as the print job, or be considered as legitimate.

E-mail advertising, banner ads, and e-mail newsletters are other alternatives. They are cheaper and more flexible than postal mail or newspaper advertising, but need to be targeted and updated.

Web sites allow customers to find answers without having direct contact, but they also need to be updated, and some customers want to speak directly with a person.

For salespeople, online collaboration can reduce the need for travel, phone calls, faxes and overnight mail. But the Internet is not a magic potion for solving business problems. It is a complementary and a critical tool of business.

Sara Klomp is creative director at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.

Web strengths

  • One-dimensional
  • Interactive and dynamic
  • Personalized
  • Cheaper
  • Fast changes
  • Accessible from a distance
  • Accessible 24 hours a day
  • Allows online collaboration

Web weaknesses

  • Uncontrolled web browsers
  • Slow downloading
  • Reading 25% slower
  • Uses less text
  • Web users skim copy
  • Needs to change constantly
  • Users ask: Is it legitimate?
  • Needs computer access

Print strengths

  • Perceived to be more legitimate
  • More time spent reading
  • Controls the reader
  • Reliable
  • Focus on art
  • More personalized
  • Long shelf life
  • Accessed without a computer

Print weaknesses

  • More expensive
  • Slower to communicate
  • Adds postage and mailing costs
  • More difficult to change
  • Can’t be accessed immediately
  • Can’t be accessed everywhere
  • Not as dynamic
  • Not interactive

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