Taking Traditional Design Concepts & Print Design Aesthetics to the Web: Advantages & Disadvantages

Joseph Le, Former Designer

Article Category: #Design & Content

Posted on

When I came into web design fresh off the print world, I wanted to make innovative and crazy looking websites that broke a lot of rules to create unique experiences for users. However, I forgot all about the importance of user-friendly navigation, functionality, usability, and practicality. On a daily basis, I am constantly faced with the dilemma of designing for the web and print media. It's an ongoing challenge for a noob like me to bring creative concepts and aesthetics from both worlds together in harmony.

From a transitioning designer's point of view, I've noticed that a lot of web designers are constraining themselves by sticking with the same old and boring web templates that look reminiscent of their competitors. Web designers are starting to lose the traditional aspects and foundational elements of design that makes a design visually engaging. This includes strong hierarchy of information, great typography, a solid grid system, color theory, and captivating artwork.

We need to bring back innovation and pioneer new techniques to break the aesthetic norm in web design while still maintaining user-friendly usability. If you don't want your website to be another can in the assembly line, then perhaps you should look at some print-inspired websites that retain a lot of traditional design for inspiration.




Gregory Wood:


Florida Flourish:


(Yeah, I know. It's a lot of vertical scrolling.)




Jason Santa Maria:





Now here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of taking the traditional design concepts and print design to the web.


  • Poster-like websites have the ability to entertain and grab the user's attention with engaging visuals that are lacking in a lot of contemporary websites. Adding a print-like vibe to a website can make it visually stand out from the crowd.
  • A designer can create a unique and personal experience for the viewer by retaining the storytelling aspect of design that has a beginning and end.
  • The design and layout in blogazines are more tailored to the specific content in each article. Allowing the content to dictate the design of a page will aesthetically refine the author's message in an interesting way. Presenting the content in a different fashion with varied typography, hierarchy, and layout keeps the viewer on his or her toes. 


  • Poster-like websites may draw the viewer's attention faster, but they also increase the amount of time for the user to understand what the heck is going on and why the site looks different.
  • Prior to entering a site, people have certain expectations for where interactive elements are located. If these elements are arranged in a big way for aesthetics at the expense of usability, then the audience will become more alienated from interacting with the site.
  • Many print-like websites are too deadlocked and backed into a confined format without much interaction to lead the user into the next step. The general web audience wants to go to a site looking for easy to find information with which they can interact.
  • Blogazines take a very long time to create because of the customized CSS for each article. HTML and CSS are purposely designed for structured content. Things can get really messy when designers try to break from the standard layout.


  • A poster-like website is more appropriate for "blogazines", portfolio/resume, events, exhibitions, and unique articles. One potential idea for the future of Viget Inspire is to maybe embrace the idea of creating a blogazine-esque post system that will be significant to the content alone. This will better showcase our creativity and versatility.
  • Since the iPad has no fold, viewing websites will become more fluid. In this case, we will start to look at websites with more interconnecting panes and extended layouts. Like print design, iPads have no scrollbar. A huge portion of a site can be viewed at once with the In Portrait option. This is a win for poster-like websites with extended landscapes.
  • We can take the concept of visually breaking boundaries in print design and apply them to the web which is currently suffering from sites mimicking each other and falling into line like sheep. This includes rethinking usability and interaction without losing the audience's understanding.
  • Owen Shifflett once told me to draw first, and then pull the trigger. To all of my fellow transitioning designers out there, we shouldn't stress over the idea of creating for the web or print. Otherwise, we will subconsciously restrict ourselves by relying on conventional practices to set the standard. Instead, we should just focus on making good design that works.


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