Print involves seeing; the web involves doing. Books, magazines, posters, newspapers, brochures, and advertisements all contain information, usually text and images, whose intent is to deliver some sort of message or content to a reader. More importantly, designers often try to build a call to action into their work that makes a customer believe there is some action they should be taking as a result of the design. Compare a print flyer for a shoe sale with its online counterpart. The call to action for the print fl yer is, “Show up at the store this Saturday to buy these shoes at a discount.”
The information regarding the sale might be enough to compel the customer to get in their car and go shoe shopping on Saturday, but the designer helps to present the information in a way that is well organized and gets noticed. Using color, type, and perhaps an illustration or image, the designer helps to convince the potential customer of the value of this sale. In some sense, you could say that the print designer’s job is done when she sends the fi le off to the printer. If the customer shows up in the store, it becomes the salesperson’s job to complete the sale.
Now let’s examine the web designer who is largely responsible for leading the prospective customer through the entire process. If an interested customer comes to the shoe store’s website, perhaps there is a button that the user clicks to see the shoes that are on sale. The customer then needs some way to gather more data on the shoes; perhaps there is a table listing the available shoe sizes, colors, and brands.
If the customer takes the leap and puts a shoe into the site’s shopping cart, this shopping process needs to be designed as well. In both of these examples, the end result is hopefully the same for the shoe store’s owner: the customer buys the shoes. In both cases information is transferred from the store to the customer; however, in the case of the website, the designer is involved in all stages of the sale process. This is a crucial concept to understand: the web is an active medium and the term to describe this design process is user interaction design.