web vs print

There seems to be much debate these days between web and print designers. Not that this is anything new to anyone working in the field, but an important topic nonetheless. As someone who works hand-in-hand with both print and web I've had a small glimpse in to both worlds. But why should I choose sides? If you lay aside the degrees, the associations, the requirements, aren't we all the same underneath? Creative people all looking to make the future a more aesthetically pleasing and usable place to live?

One of the biggest divisions I think between the two is experience. Traditionally, if you wanted to receive recognition as a designer you earned your degree and worked your way up from intern to director. Building a strong portfolio of work along the way. But now with the web it's possible for anyone to make a name for themselves. Notice I said it's possible, not guaranteed, because more often than not the average Joe who makes a website will very rarely receive any type of recognition. And this goes without saying of course that for all the millions of blogs available today, maybe 5% of those are worth reading. Yes the rules of time still apply to the web.

In his article "Dear AIGA, where are the web designers?" Jeffrey Zeldman addresses the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) with an important question in regards to their upcoming Business and Design Conference.

... I can’t help noticing that for all the brand directors, creative directors, Jungian analysts, and print designers, one rather significant specimen of the profession is missing. Where are the web (or if you insist, the interaction) designers? I am probably missing someone, but I count two people with web experience, and neither gets more than 60 seconds of stage time.

For "the oldest and largest membership association for professionals engaged in the discipline, practice and culture of designing" this is a sore mistake. It doesn't make sense to me that an organization like AIGA still refers to web designers as "interaction designers". And why the delay with welcoming in the new breed of designers who are blending, cutting, pasting and pushing the limits of design? The web should not be thought of as a passing fad but embraced for what it is, the new printing press.

Now more than ever are we able to produce information at an amazing rate of speed. But even more than that we are able to present that information multiple ways on a single page. But you could say the same about print. And of course you would be correct. However I've never had the ability to look at a piece of printed material and been able to change the layout of it on the fly. But then again, there is something beautiful and delicate about a printed piece of work.

So why all the fuss? Why all the title divisions and disputes over what medium is best? It's like fighting a reflection, you can't win when the other person follows your every move. We must become willing to accept what the other does if we want to be respected in our own field. Or as Mr. Zeldman put it:

"If you exclude us from the conversation, the conversation may end up excluding you."