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Desktop Publishing and the Internet

Who Designed the Web?

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Graphic design, desktop publishing, and Web design are different and not-always-distinct disciplines in the broader field of visual communications. They can also be seen as a linear progression. Traditional graphic design gave way to desktop publishing with the advent of desktop computers and laser printers. The growth of the Internet and birth of the Web led to the creation of a whole new industry and design field — Web design — with its roots in desktop publishing.

Print to Web
Many of the first Web designers were originally and primarily print designers who migrated from print publishing to electronic publishing. Less than a decade after desktop publishing software revolutionalized graphic design, print designers began struggling with how to take what they knew about traditional design and layout and translate it to the less precise and ever-evolving world of Web publishing.

Today, the tables are turned. Many new designers come to the world of design with no print experience. Web design is sometimes considered the same as graphic design or desktop publishing and while each requires different skill sets, graphic designers are often expected to know both print and Web design.

«Desktop Publishing is abstract publishing.… You simply place things on the page where you'd like them, with only your imagination limiting their position, size, font, or relationship to the other elements. Web Site Publishing is linear publishing. …Every element is before or after another element. Every page is rendered (or parsed by a browser) from top to bottom. …most HTML Authoring Programs do not work like Desktop Publishing programs. They work much more similar to Word Processing Programs. You start at the top and work your way to the bottom.»
— Jeffrey Glover, former About Web Production Guide, DTP vs. Web Publishing, 10/27/97

WYSIWYG On and Off-Screen
What Jeffrey Glover wrote in 1997 about the differences in software is only partly true today. Originally, desktop publishing and Web design did require completely different software applications. Just as Web design skills are now expected of all designers, HTML and Web publishing capabilities are now de rigueur for almost all desktop publishing software applications. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between print design software and WYSIWYG HTML authoring programs.

This change in traditional print applications and the people who use them is a direct result of the growth of the Internet and the fact that so many early Web designers began life as print designers.

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