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Design and the Web-based Image

Working in print media, a key issue for a photo editor/art director is how to design the page so that the photographs and text use form to emphasize content. On the Web, despite all its freedom, most publications use a content management system that makes it almost impossible to explore the potentials of innovative design. It is certainly cheaper and more efficient to use such a system (this blog uses one), but the potentials of the image are short circuited in a brochure-like design. Certainly doing it otherwise is expensive and time-consuming (a major reason why, barring significant financial support, it has been difficult to continue with PixelPress.org).

When one looks at great magazine design there is almost nothing like it on the Web. The era of mass picture magazines started with magazines like Vu in France where the covers were as graphic and stunning as posters. Inside pages for Vu and other early magazines like Regards and Picture Post were used to experiment with all kinds of juxtapositions of images, text and other graphic elements. But what we end up with in terms of design at the beginning of the Web era is much like what we have in desktop publishing — clean sites that look professional but are almost never transcendent.

2 Comments

  1. iris sikking wrote:

    I agree with you! But have you ever seen the following websites?
    http://www.whymisterwhy.org
    http://www.sobluesoblue.nl
    http://www.go-no-go.nl
    Although they do not (yet) reach the highly defined status of magazine graphic design,
    at least a team of producers, researchers and designers were making an attempt in making a useful and beautiful graphic design and give room to the pictures.
    Best,
    Iris

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  2. fredritchin wrote:

    I agree with you as well, Iris. But I keep wondering why spending so much time surfing on the Web leaves me so deflated, while looking at a magazine from 1928 or 1934 is often so exciting. It seems that in the 80 years since the beginning of Vu magazine, for example, we have in many ways lost some of our appreciation for sophisticated design. And 1928 was the year that the 35-mm Leica camera came out and photographs of action began to be made more consistently, so it was not that these new picture magazines had so many years to prepare.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

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  1. Looking at Pictures… | 12th Press on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 11:31 am

    [...] specifically concerned photojournalism, is and has changed on the web and in the era of digital.  A recent post caught my eye: When one looks at great magazine design there is almost nothing like it on the Web. [...]

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