Friday, April 29, 2011

What's Your Flavor, Print or Digital?

What would you do if you didn’t have a business card with you that time you were at the bar and randomly met the CEO of Coca Cola?
Your business card is print.
Some say print will die in the next 5 years, and that digital will completely take over. But why 5 years? I won’t deny that digital is the future, but at this point I think people give it too much credit.
As a designer, I’m a fan of print.
You work long hours, withstand tough critics and refine your butt off, it should count for something, physically. With print, there is a nervous excitement in the back of your mind as you send it off to your print vendor and hope that it will turn out the way you dreamed. And when you finally hold the printed piece in your hand you get a little flutter in your stomach, that makes you want to jump up and down. Some might think – well she’s a young designer, she still gets excited over those things – but no matter how many projects that I have and will send to print, I know I’ll be proud to hold the final product. When I create a design that will be purely digital, sure it’s great and I’m proud of it, but I can’t touch it or feel it. It will probably get filed away on the server and I’ll never look at it again.
As a reader, I’m a fan of print.
Would you want to fall asleep on top of the hard screen of an iPad, Nook or Kindle? A book is just easier to bring to bed with you. I love the smell of a brand new book, the sound of its fluttering pages, and the feeling of the soft paper between your fingers. You don’t have to worry if you accidentally drop it, or if your dog happens to jump on you and completely takes over the very place your book once was. You can write on it, cut it out, and photocopy it. You can bend it, fold it and if you really want, you can even throw it.
But, digital is the future.
Don’t get me wrong, digital is great. I’m a designer after all, I practically live on the computer.  Designing for digital is different than print. You have to design more for user behavior than anything else. Sure you could have a great message, but can the person behind the mouse actually do anything with it? Is it interactive? In some cases, digital becomes less about the story and more about what you can do with it.
You can do more with digital. It can take you to other places, you can sync it to RSS feeds, you can adjust your text size and the typeface it’s displayed in. You can view more vibrant colors than ever before. It can give you more information in less space, and it can even fit in your pocket. You can read digital books and lend them out to your friends. And as a designer, you can create beautiful websites, advertisements, email campaigns and so much more. Every little bit of digital design will in some way reach an abundance of viewers, while print may be more focused on a smaller audience.
Most people can carry the digital world with them anywhere they go, whether it’s a smart phone, a palm, a laptop, an iPad or any other digital tablet. But there are places in the world that still don’t have full access to the digital world. Their internet could be spotty or non-existent, or maybe they can’t afford that new smart phone. Digital may be the future, but not yet.
My flavor happens to be print with a splash of digital. What’s yours?

*I also posted this blog for Stokefire

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