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The web isn't print

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only their customer table doesn’t separate first and last names, and next year when someone has to merge the tables they can’t figure out how to split first and last names after the fact, and eventually your system starts addressing letters to "Mr. Jr."

Painless Data Models

Okay article, lousy formatting. A two column layout is a good way to create shorter line lengths and make things easier to read, and I’m sure the layout looks great on the designer’s 21-inch monitor, but here on my 15-inch laptop screen, the page doesn’t all fit on one screen. After reading one column to the bottom of the page, I have to scroll back to the top of the page to start the next column. Scrolling that way breaks the flow of the text.

Print designers, think of it this way. Imagine laying out a block of text in horizontal columns instead of vertical. The first column spans two pages, and the reader has to turn the page to finish it. The next column starts back on page one, forcing the reader to turn back to where they started in order to continue reading. Turning from page one to two as you read is a completely natural action. Turning from page two back to page one isn’t. It interrupts the reader as they read. It makes them think about what they are doing instead of what they are reading.

I’ve said it before. The web isn’t print. Learn to embrace the medium. Design print pieces in a way that uses the advantages and downplays the limitations of the printed page. Design Web sites to use features that are unique to the Web, not to showcase your print design skils.

Trackback from Scott's place
April 3, 2003 3:46 PM

Write for the medium: web != paper

Excerpt: You often need to think differently when writing for the web. Paragraphs should be shorter. Hell, whole articles should be. Failing that, give people an abstract first and an option to continue reading (if they get bored and don't bother,...

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