Online Newspaper vs. Print Version

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Newspaper designers have a huge canvas to play with. Their designs can be striking and yet intricate and pack much more impact than a web page; especially because the entire double-page spread is in-your-face in a fraction of a second. Wham, here's the news.

The page in the figure is a great example of the possibilities in print: a large, high-resolution map sets the stage for a story about Chile and does double duty as an information graphic for several data nuggets. More data is visualized in smaller graphics around the page. And, of course, there is room for a large amount of text that is set in high-resolution type and nicely integrated with the headlines and graphics in a pleasing over-all layout that allows the eye to move from overview to details in a fraction of a second.

The above image does not do justice to the awards book which is printed in super-high resolution on heavy-duty glossy paper. In the book, it is possible to actually read the body text on the page. For online, I had to squeeze the JPEG quality down quite a bit in order to achieve the required 10-second download time for modem users. Another benefit of print!

Print design is 2-dimensional, with much attention paid to layout. It is obviously possible for the reader to turn the page, but substantial interplay between different spreads is rare. Typically, each view is a design unit created for a fixed size canvas - often a big canvas when designing newspapers or posters. In contrast, Web design is simultaneously 1-dimensional and N-dimensional.

A web page is fundamentally a scrolling experience for the user as opposed to a canvas experience. A small amount of 2-dimensional layout is possible, but not to the extent of creating a pre-planned experience with a fixed spatial relationship between elements. Users often begin scrolling before all elements have been rendered, and different users will scroll the page in different ways throughout their reading...
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