July 10th, 2012 by Jim Kidwell
Ever since the advent of the internet and the World Wide Web, the design field has been evolving to meet the challenges of creating work for multiple mediums. With print, web, mobile and other design targets all clamoring for a designers attention, it’s often difficult to know just where to start.
During a recent webcast for design professionals, I polled the audience to learn how they were attacking the problem.
My first question verified that the vast majority of designers no longer have the luxury of concentrating on only a single target. Eighty percent of the audience responded that they designed for multiple targets, with the remaining twenty mostly focusing on print only design work.
Do you design for multiple output targets?
The industry has definitely changed over the years. No longer can designers focus on one area. They need to be flexible and have the ability to adapt to any situation – a digital James Bond if you will. (Now I just need a computer monitor that dispenses the perfect vodka martini and a belt buckle homing device that automatically finds the best clients.)
Flexibility notwithstanding, design best practices require a starting place, a master design from where a designer begins. From what I have seen in the industry, I expected most designers to start with web and mobile devices as their primary design target, with everything as an offshoot of that initial design. I was surprised at what the survey results revealed.
Despite the conversion to a web master that others are touting, the survey indicates that the uptake of web or mobile as a primary design target is not catching on just yet. The vast majority of you start with the print portion of the project and move on to other outputs from there.
What is your primary design target?
I was chatting with our own in-house designer about this, and we came up with one theory that supported the continued dominance of print as a the master design. When creating assets for print, you need to have high quality graphics and other source material. For example, you need high resolution images, graphics as vectors, color spaces set in CMYK and so forth. These items aren’t necessarily required for mobile or web output, where designers can get by with a much lower level of detail and still have the final result look OK. If the web or mobile was the first target, it is tempting to start with lower resolution art, which if used may require the entire recreation of the project when it goes to print.
While print may still rule the roost in many design shops, the never ending march of technology steps forward. With the rising popularity of web and mobile devices such as iPads and other tablet computers, my prediction is that we’ll start to see an increasing focus design for these devices as the primary target. If special consideration is paid where print output is required, a switch-up in the workflow could be easily supported.