Print design isn’t web design (rant two)

“As an art director, my experience prior to joining TimesOnline was primarily print-based; mainly magazine and newspaper launches/redesigns. It’s been interesting to apply this experience to the online medium, to experience the learning curve so far, and to kick over some of my own statues in the process…”

A quote from Tomaso Capuano, Co-designer of the TimesOnline redesign

The redesigned Times website launched today with some rather horrific type rendering. The main navigation was unreadable for many of its readers and the type sizes throughout were tiny, tiny, tiny!

Let me get this straight. I’m not advocating that print designers should not ever try their hand at web design (I used to be a print designer). What I am saying however, is that web design should never be underestimated. Yes, it is ‘interesting’ to try the online medium, but the industry has developed immensely since those days. Ferrari doesn’t hire a product designers to engineer F1 Cars – so why do The Times believe its appropriate to hire newspaper designers to engineer the user experience of their website?

The problem is not that print designers are inherintely bad at web design, but that many have little or no experience of the details which make good web design. I’m talking specifically about a working knowledge of CCS, browser hacks, platform/device issues and user-centered design processes. The design process on the web is simply not as linear as the print process. Its organic and hardly ever perfect – especially to us designers. Interaction design constantly evolves to meet the demands of the audience via continuous iterative improvement.

The Times Online announced their re-design today. For me its a swift reminder me that designing for Newspapers is more about political battles than creating an accessible manifestation of their brand. Put simply, its a stereotypical example of neanderthal ‘client-centered design’. Would it not be more efficient for the editor of the Times to learn Photoshop himself/herself?

About graham

Gadget-obsessed user experience designer/manager. Compulsive cleaner and reluctant runner.
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