Rumor has it that printers, publications and print designers are dying a slow but inevitable death due to the surge in internet usage, innovations in content delivery hardware (like Kindle and iPad) and an ever increasing awareness of sustainable practices and lifestyles.

It’s no secret that circulation is down for newspapers (-8.7%) and magazines (-2.23%) but online content subscriptions are on the rise as more and more people look to the internet for news, information and entertainment. The fact of the matter is, print isn’t dead – but it is experiencing a paradigm shift.

It used to be that web design and print design were two different technologies with completely separate goals. It might be hard to believe now, but 15 years ago there was no such thing as an “integrated design degree” that encompassed web, print and interactive design. We were instructed to choose one path or the other because learning it all would have required eight years of higher education instead of  the standard four for a BFA.

As technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate of speed, software companies are developing ever more innovative programs to allow for seamless integration of print and web based mediums. The new tools certainly make designers more efficient in their workflow, and in many cases allow those of us who only had the option to choose one design medium early on, to now “do it all” and to offer our clients a broader range of services. Sort of. No matter how much I learn about web and interactive design, my primary design focus will always be print design, and while most web designers can design and execute printed pieces, their primary design focus will likely always be web design.

While print and web design have overlapping foundations in art, function, and purpose, they are still two very different animals when it comes to technique, development, and execution.

As companies work harder to integrate what they’re doing on-line with what they’re doing off-line, and business (and the general public) have shifted more of their user content and even marketing to digital mediums, the demand for “print-to-web” content has steadily increased. These are documents and materials that are designed for both print and digital use. Magazines are a good example of this shift. I can still go to the newsstand and buy a physical copy of “TIME” magazine, or I can buy an online subscription, download a digital copy of the print version and flip through it  page by page on my laptop screen. The layout, design, ad placement, and production of that magazine, in it’s print or web form still requires the skill of a print designer. The “TIME” magazine website still requires the layout, design, ad placement and web development skills of a web designer. ✻

Top 5 Reasons NOT to Stick a Fork in Print Design

Sustainability is gradually removing the stigma from print. Renewable and recycled material content, coupled with renewable production sources means we can now, more than ever, have our pretty paper and eat it too. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t want to eat it, but you could recycle it, plant it (if it’s seed paper), compost it…
Until the Jetson’s or StarTrek become a reality, we will still have store signage, menus, city street banners and bar coasters under beers. Pay attention next time you’re out and about to everything around you that required some sort of print or screen press to achieve.
The rate of human evolution hasn’t kept up with technology and reading on a computer screen for too long causes eye strain, headaches, change in vision over time, and can lead to a complete lack of “real” social interaction. Facebook and Twitter just aren’t good huggers.
People like tactile things. Interactive cards online are pretty cool and creative and a Kindle is convenient, but there is something really awesome about getting a card (or a postcard) in the mail or spending hours in a book store finding just the right book.
Humans have a deep-seated, primary instinct that electric power might not exist forever.
If the power goes out for good, and the entirety of our lives exist only digitally, we are screwed as a species.

Illustration “Stick a Fork in it” © 2011 cg design house