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Web Design Principles for Print Designers

If you are accustomed to designing for print, the Web introduces a number of new concepts and new ways of doing things. Part of what makes web design unique is that the pages are displayed on a computer monitor, not paper, requiring familiarity with new color models. In addition, you need to work within the unique environment of the web browser. The HTML markup language brings its own limitations to the mix

Color on the Web

The Web requires designers to think about color in new ways. In part, it means understanding color in a more technical manner—the appearance of a page can benefit greatly if a designer knows what’s going on “under the hood.” The peculiarities of working with color in web design are functions of the following simple principles:

  • Monitors. Web pages are displayed on computer monitors, therefore the basic rules of how computers and monitors handle color apply to web pages as well.
  • Browsers. Because browsers have built-in resources for rendering color when running on systems with limited color display capacity, they can alter the appearance of the colors in your pages.
  • HTML. Colors on a web page that are not part of a graphic (for example, background and text colors) need to be properly identified in the HTML tags

Web authoring tools

Many WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web authoring tools (including Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, GoLive Cyberstudio, and Claris HomePage 3.0), allow you to choose from swatches of web-safe colors when applying color to text and backgrounds. You can see the results of your choices immediately in the application window or when previewed in a browser.

Photoshop swatches

If you do not have a web-authoring application, you can experiment with colors in a Photoshop file by loading the web-safe colors into the Swatches palette (see Chapter 17 for instructions on creating a Web Palette CLUT file). Using the eyedropper tool, you can then be sure that the colors you select for backgrounds and text are web-safe.


Great strides have been made in this effort since the early days of the Web and HTML 1.0; however, as of this writing, the font issue is still unfolding. This section discusses possible strategies and technologies (along with their advantages and disadvantages) for designing type in web documents. It also addresses the issue of using foreign (non-western) characters on web pages.

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