Thursday, November 12, 2009

Designing for Online VS Print

Online design and print are different from each other because they are different in genre. In print, the contents are design in linear form where readers will read from left to right and top to bottom (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). Whereas for online, readers read in F-Shaped Pattern (Nielsen, 2006). Nielsen (2006) stated that readers “first read in a horizontal movement”, then “second horizontal movement” and finally “users scan the content’t left side in a vertical movement”.

Figure 1: F-Shaped Pattern

(Source: Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

The content design for online is different as well because users tend to skim through the content but not reading them thoroughly. Therefore headings, sub-headings, bullet points are essential in online design to emphasize the important information (Nielsen, 2006). Besides, readers of print tend to flip through a magazine and read what attracts them rather than reading page by page or article by article. As for online, readers are allowed to read the content in several ways (Kress and van Leeuwen, 2006).

Figure 2: Times in Print

Figure 3: Times in Online

As we can see from the pictures above in Figure 1 and Figure 2, both are from Times but they are different because one is in a form of print and the another is in a form of a website. Hence the way the readers read them will be different. Therefore, a good design for print may not be good for online as they both differ from genre. Nielsen (1999) stated that “Anything that is a great print design is likely to be a lousy web design”.


Kress, G & van Leeuwen, T 2006, Chapter 6: The meaning of composition, Reading Images: Grammar of Visual Design, Routledge, London.

Nielsen, J 1999, Differences Between Print Design and Web Design, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox,, viewed 12 November 2009,

Nielsen, J 2006, F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox,, viewed 12 November 2009,

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