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Putting Your Design on the Line


At B Direct, we began as analog designers (although our first website project was in 1994, the primordial dawn of the Internet). As online media has evolved, we had to evolve along with it. Today, our clients rely on digital direct marketing as much as — and in some cases more than — traditional vehicles like direct mail, print advertising, outdoor, and collateral. 

In fact, the best and most successful programs combine online and off.

So what works best in digital design? How is it similar to analog? And how is it different?

There are many similarities. In both cases, you're communicating (and, if you're doing your job right, engaging, persuading and selling) through a visual presentation. The elements and principles of art and design are equally important online and off. After all, digital design uses the same building blocks as print design:
• Imagery
• Typography
• Hierarchy
• Information
• Focus
• Space
• Color
• Value
• Movement
• Flow

But, there's one major difference. That's user interaction.

In print design, regardless of the format you're working in — be it a postcard, an ad, invitation, flyer, brochure, billboard or direct mail package — you're usually striving to make a single overall impression.  In print, the deliverable is static and the viewer is passive. In print, you are the creator; you have a captive audience, and you're in control. (Unless, of course, they choose to throw your piece away — but that, dear friends, warrants a blog post of its own.) Your job is to guide them, tell your story, engage them, and get them to take action.

Now consider digital design. When you're creating a website, email or online ad, you're conveying a message that leads to choices. These may include website navigation and multiple pages; email links and offers; a landing page or registration form; or a banner ad with buttons.

Digital design has to be dynamic. It needs to drive interaction, and it needs to respond — or rebuild itself — based on that interaction. Your job is still to guide them, but they are most certainly in control.

Think of it this way ... In the world of print, you're showing someone a beautiful painting.

In the world of digital, you're setting them loose in a museum.

You can guide them through. But, chances are, they'd prefer a map and a chance to do some exploring on their own.

Whether you're designing for print or digital, you need to accommodate different viewers. We think of them in two groups: the grazers and the swoopers. Grazers spend time; they read copy; they want to know more; and they're amenable to being guided by you. Swoopers, on the other hand, scan information; skim for what's important to them; and are eager to recognize and take next steps.

Print and digital design don't have to be at odds with each other. As a creative person,  you can embrace their differences. Each has unique qualities you can use to your advantage.

In today's multimedia, integrated world, both analog and digital design have their place — and need to work together to achieve campaign objectives. 

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