Thursday, November 19, 2009

Design for print and designing online


Online design differs from print, in that the human mind reads and processes details differently on the computer than when reading in print. Firstly, there is background illumination that emanates from the computer which strains the eyes. Colourful or cluttered backgrounds that must not detract from the text.

Using an example of Time Magazine, the print version has the iconic cover with a striking image partnered with engaging text, this is new media literacy (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006)creating a powerful message.

The online design uses more multimodal formats and this effects the design (Walsh, 2006). All the different elements, including hyperlinks, videos and boxes, must be placed so that the readers scannability of the document is improved. Other difference are that print is visualized in 2-dimensions whereas web designs are ‘1-dimensional and N-dimensional’(Nielsen,1999). This encourages readers to scroll up and down, rather than left to right as in print.

As in print, headings are important for breaking up text (Reep, 2006). Online readers tend to read in F-shape, online text should be smaller than in print and paragraphs should be shorter and split into “chunks” for easier reading.


Kress, G & van Leeuwen, TV, 2006, Reading images: The grammar of visual design, 2nd edn, Routledge, London

Nielsen, J 1999, Differences Between Print Design and Web Design, Alertbox, viewed 15 November 2009, <>

Reep, D.C. 2006, ‘Chp 4: Principles of Document Design,’ in Technical Writing, 6th ed., Pearson Edu, Inc., New York, p.173-190.

Walsh, M 2006, ‘The 'textual shift': Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts’ Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol29, No.1, p.24-37

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