DT&G Magazine Editor's Column
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DTG interviews Roger Parker...

About trendy web sites...

DT&G   Should organizations be intent on bringing out new designs with the trendy look of some of the more leading edge web sites. Is this a good idea?

Roger:   As always, the correct answer is It depends. Sometimes a trendy look can be effective if it suits the message and the particular audience. Let's consider the case of an established performing arts organization, noted for playing baroque music on the authentic original instruments of the time. They might well want to choose a "trendy" or "grunge" typeface if they want to promote an avant garde concert (perhaps a joint concert with a rock group or a jazz quartet) in order to attract a new audience--or simply to attract attention.
      But, it certainly would be a mistake to use Deconstructed Graffiti Number Five for the program notes to accompany their annual Christmas concert of Handel's Messiah!
      Also, it's important to note that "trendy," or "self-conscious" typefaces that attract undue attention, should be used with restraint. It may be OK to use a cutting-edge typeface for the title of a particular program, but you certainly wouldn't want to use it for the program notes or the performer's biographies!

DT&G   Do you think organizations should try to purvey a web look that follows their print design? Or is it better to develop a totally different look just for the web?

Roger:   Consistency is vital.
      Your goal in both print and online is to project a consistent image, to create a unique brand that consistently projects who you are and what you stand for. Certainly, there are things you can do in print that you can't do on the web (and vice versa). But, there are certain elements of design where you should strive for consistency between web and print.
      For example, you might want to use the same "signature" typefaces (saved as graphic files on the web) for titles, headlines and pull-quotes. You should use the same limited color palette in both print and online. Yes, you probably won't be able to achieve a perfect color match (given the different color casts of different computer monitors as they age and room lighting conditions, etc.).
      But you certainly shouldn't use green and red on your web site if your "corporate colors" in print are yellow and blue.

DT&G   Roger, you talk to a lot of people from all levels of the publishing field -- does there seem to be a trend or indication of how much of a printed publication (like, say, a newsletter) should be published in parallel on the web?

Roger:   I don't see the sense in parallel publishing, where the same material available in print is available on line.
      What I do think makes a lot of sense is to use the web to complement print publications, to offer things that print publications can't offer. For example, just this morning I was reading the latest Fine Homebuilding, a beautifully-designed publication by Taunton Publications, by the way, that their web site offers videos that reinforce their articles. You can take "virtual tours" of some of the homes pictured in their magazine, and online "how to" videos accompany several of their procedural articles. That's great, and it's also not "parallel." It goes beyond parallel. The web site adds value to the print publication.
      Also, in terms of timeliness and "spaciousness," the web offers opportunities to complement print publications. Late breaking news (as well as corrections) can be immediately added to the web site. And text and graphics too long for the print version can be easily added to the web site, enhancing the reader's experience without detracting from the print publication.
      Web and print should be seen as allies, not competitors.

Next: What do you think is the single most misused design technique being popularized today?


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