These days I’m getting my fill of the world of print design. We’re getting ready to send out a new marketing brochure at Behavior and I’m lending a hand to get the production files out to the printer. A lot of Web designers would like this change of pace, would like the opportunity to work on something tangible and based in atoms rather than dealing with the world of the Web, but not me.For the first four years of my career as a designer, I produced design for print. My first two employers produced advertisements, books, brochures, marketing collateral and identity work. I never realized how much pain this work caused me until I started designing solely for the Web. At first I thought that I was going to miss print, but six months later it struck me that I was much happier working purely for the screen.
The complicated mechanics of print production — color separations, paper selection, imaging, proofs, etc. — are a complete drag because it seems like every time you’ve cleared one, you’re presented with another. You might make the argument that the technical aspect of prepress is just as complicated and involved as that of interaction design, but the thing that really aggravated me is that, no matter what, designing for print is still designing by proxy. No matter how beautifully constructed a QuarkXPress file or expertly manipulated a Photoshop image, the final result in a print job can only roll off a printer’s press.
On the other hand, when you design for the Web, the final product is exactly what you’re working on, in front of you, on the screen. Sure, Web production can itself be long and involved, but the designer’s ability to render an idea in something very, very close to its final form is virtually unimpeded on the Web. The distance from concept to finish is infinitely shorter, and that’s what I’m most interested in: the immediate expression of an idea.