Print vs. Web: The differences

Your corporate message remains the same, no matter how it’s presented. But your message must be adapted for presentation in print and on the web to take advantage of each media’s strength.

Experts such as Jakob Nielsen have been conducting usability research on websites for many years, discovering differences between print and web use and perception. The chart below outlines some of the major differences.

Print readers

Writing

  • Read most or all of the words.
  • Follow lines across the column or page.
  • Will read longer sentences and paragraphs.

Design

  • Can’t change a printed document’s design, color, size and fonts.
  • Can read a document with any font style or print colors available.

Photos/graphics

  • Photos and graphics can be highly detailed and presented in sizes as large as the printed page.
  • Graphics can be as complex or simple as needed without affecting the rest of the publication.

Web readers

Writing

Design

  • Can change page size, color, fonts and appearance depending on their computers, browsers and preferences.
  • Need sites with web-friendly colors and fonts that work on most computers, which can limit choices.

Photos/graphics

  • Photos and graphics must be presented in smaller size and lower resolution, with less detail, so they don’t slow down a web page’s loading time.
  • Graphics can be interactive and animated, adding features that aren’t available in print.