Notes: Traditional Design and New Technology

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

Traditional design = print. Discussion based on aesthetics.

Q: how has the role of the designer changed?

Mark: Reasons why this is the right time talk about this. Brother has just graduated and he didn't know much about design. For example he didn't know about leading.

Toni: In the late nineties, your grandmother won't be reading her newspaper online. There's more of a need to carry through trad design values through to the web.

Khoi: We're in the midst of another crazy web boom.

Jason: design is persistent in every facet of our lives.

Q: How do the constraints of the medium affect design's role.

Khoi: If you look at the washington post you're looking at the how the content is laid out. Not the presentation of the content but the how easy it is to use the site. You start to evaluate the constraints of the web. Whereas in print you concentrate on the aesthetic without constraints.

MarK: I want to talk about the aesthetics. Nice design in anew paper the conventions are there. the focus is on aesthetic and brand. Big brand such as Nike and Adidas with flash and movie based sites.

Toni: With a newspaper there's a trustworthiness that is implied. you look at the guardian and the times and you trust what they are saying. Convey more of the brand .

Jason: Newsvine is breaking out of the constraints of the medium.

How are you creating experiences differently?

Mark: Art direction came up in preparation for this panel. Art direction in a team of as direction as storytelling. Standards in place mean can focus on art direction of the brand.

Jason: art direction is falling away because of the immediacy of being about to put a website on the web. Less thought goes into the message.

Toni: In the web the expectation is that you should be able churn stuff out really quickly. You don't get the same amount of time to refine your craft.

Jason: years ago there's a hierarchy whereas now people where many hats

Toni: the role of art director has broken down. in the web that role has been removed.

Khoi: Design can include the coding aspect and the total user experience. Art direction doesn't focus on the platform but more on making the site beautiful.

Liz: Are we losing something through the transition to web.

Mark: Feeling the attachment to something. Products such as cars they all do the same thing. What separates them is the brand whether you align yourself to the brand. On the web we are just pushing stuff around to see what looks nice. We're not spending time.

Jason: Different people that had specific jobs like setting a headline doing colour separation whereas now the roles have converged.

Mark: When was the last time someone felt something about a website like you feel something about a car?

Toni: Are you talking about html sites or just flash. I disagree I remember looking at the UCO? site and feeling it. I think you can engage. It's completely possible to create compelling things on the web.

Mark: I disagree. It's about maturity of the medium. Where art direction can create something that can engage people.

Khoi: I agree there are lots of good sites. We evaluated the particular constraints versions of flash, CSS etc. Theses are technical and cold criteria. As we look back at design in the past that impressed us. what Mark is talking about is design offline partly because they are old and they don't have the constraints you develop an attachment. People who are very familiar with the differences between browsers.

Q: Do print design techniques apply online?

Liz: Mark is fascinated in the transition of the penguin brand across time.

Mark: The Penguin website doesn't have the same feel as the print design. Bought books on cover design alone. displayed attachment to the design.

Jason: there's a difference between techniques and principles. In terms of print; Paper selection, colour separation. There's a lot you can gain from centuries of print design.

Toni: Why does the penguin site not convey the brand?

Jason: maybe the it wasn't the right people?

Khoi: The penguin site is a good example but it's has a different goal as it's an online catalogue. I looked at the 2002 annual report for 3com has nice photography and is very expressive. The 2005 annual report (online) has the title just in plain type.

Liz: Can you talk about sites that might work despite the design?

Mark Ebay etc work despite the design:

Jason: Are you talking about beauty in the aesthetics or how a site works.


Q:How has technology changed traditional design?

Mark: Technology has changed design. Old school print designers who won't go for the web people like Neville Brody won't go near the web.

Toni: Tabs denoting which section you are in this something from the web.

Jason: as time goes on traditional design will become more of an art-form. Film photography will become more of an art form as it's being phased out as it goes digital.

Q from the audience: I don't agree that user's don't have an emotional connection with Ebay? I'm challenged by the panel that sites don't have an emotional
connection with sites. As it's subjective.

Jason: Ebay does make a connection, you've made a good point.

Khoi: Emotional connection can be based on on satisfaction but there's also room for an emotional connection based on presentation of content. I wouldn't discount the fierce loyalty of Ebay users.

Q: The reason why is that print techniques aren't applicable to the web.

Mark: Yet. We will get to that point.

Jason: stepping outside of the aesthetic there an inherent level of story telling that needs to be brought to the web.


Q: (inaudible)

Mark: Print designers are put off the web because of the lack of control over fonts on the web. Typography is not jsut about the fonts you choose.

Khoi: We're note talking ab out web becoming more like print.

Q: Does the aesthetic gets lost as we develop for smaller devices?

Jason: Not necessarily you're working within the constraints of the device.

Khoi: How big is a business card? There are competitions for this so it's possible.

Q:What techniques can web designers learn from print designers.

Mark: illustration and typography to support the content. illustration is missing in action on the web as are grid designs. A list apart supports the content, it's not the content itself.

Q: Should we have art directors on the web?

Mark: We do have them but they have different name, Strategists and IAs.

Khoi: With regard to workflow what would be handled by a designer in print is now handled by a producer, who is not necessarily design trained. We're not at the point of being able to integrate design. We will have web designers sitting there thinking about design along with editors, and not just thinking about templates.

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