Labels & Packaging
Alan Cairns writes on a number of subjects including cross-platform design on behalf of Rhapsody Media, specialists in prepress and premedia production. Rhapsody’s impressive portfolio includes blue-chip clients such as Boden, De Beers, Superbrands, Marie Claire, Orient Express and Waitrose Food among others. Here he highlights the key considerations for Print Service Providers who want to branch-out into digital design platforms.
There are a number of reasons why many Print Service Providers are adding design for digital platforms to their services. An increasing amount of advertising space appears on digital displays, and as advertising spend on print publications nosedives, the amount of money spent on online advertising is growing all the time. For this reason PSPs should not ignore the opportunity to add the digital design string to their services bow.
There are some important differences between designing for print and digital. Print grants designers a huge amount of freedom compared to online. While print design is limited only by materials and colour, designing websites, apps and other digital media requires a more structured approach. Cross-platform design is all about developing a good understanding of different platforms and ensuring that designs display well across different mediums.
One of the biggest differences between designing for print and online is the CMYK/RGB distinction. While colour printers print in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, computer monitors display colours in RGB format.
When you’re designing online you need to understand that the medium will influence your designs. Whether image or font choice, layout or colours, the web tends to be much more limited than print. Sure, you can still upload and embed images, but more often than not they will be viewed within the context of a webpage or app, which cannot be manipulated in the same way. Flash can lend design freedom, but flash sites do not index well on search engines and content can be hidden for those who don’t have the latest version of flash installed. Online design is as much influenced by performance and functional efficiency as it is by traditional design considerations.
The architecture of the internet means that webpages are far from a blank canvas. Improvements are being made all the time, with HTML5 for example, but designers are limited by the code used to create web pages. There are many different types of code but HTML and CSS are the fundamentals.
If significant numbers of a website’s visitors are using the Macintosh, Linux, or UNIX operating systems, you should also test your more complex pages and programming functionality in those operating systems. Unfortunately, platform-specific bugs remain common in the major Web browsers.
Mobile devices have grown in popularity massively over the last few years, so it’s more important than ever to ensure webpages and apps render properly on mobile devices, as they account for an increasing portion of web visits.
In the same way that a webpage can be viewed on different desktop browsers, users can use different mobile operating systems when they view a mobile site, depending on the type of phone they are using and their personal preference. The operating system can have an impact on the way pages display and function, so paying attention to multiple mobile operating systems is a must for designers looking to embrace cross platform design. This could include developing a mobile version of a site or simply ensuring that the web version renders well on mobile.
This is also true of tablet devices, which have significantly bigger screens than mobile phones but can also encounter problems rendering web pages which are not optimised for tablets. The easiest way to find out how your digital designs are displaying in different browsers and devices is to test them out yourself.
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