In my 7:25 a.m. editing class today (I can’t possibly convey how much I hate getting up at 6:30) we had to design a page of print newspaper on a dummy sheet, including photos, headlines and cutlines (captions).
Everything has to be a rectangle. Each story makes a box, and if it includes a photo, that box must include a photo. A surprising amount of thought, pencil-work and math goes into figuring out how big the headlines will be and how to structure the page.
But I’m an online media gal.
I do think it is important to see how print layout works, at least at a basic level. But what works in print does not necessarily work online, and I notice a lack in my classes of discussing how to lay out individual elements on a Web site.
Sure, we kind of know, from being online all the time. When I designed my blog, I thought,
“OK, well, there should be two or more columns, the main column should contain the blog posts, the others should have navigation and extra info.”
But why? Well, cause that’s what blogs look like.
I want a class that gives me a better answer than that. I’m admittedly not a graphic artist. That’s just not where my strengths lie. But I’d like to answer that “Why?” question with something other than “Because.”
I’ve seen too many news Web sites that were clearly designed without any understanding of how to place elements on a Web site. I get the feeling that these are being produced by people whose lives aren’t online; they’re in print. And to overcome that, the Webbie needs to explain how and why the print structure doesn’t work for the Web.