1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Jan. 20, 2006
The Design Element
The idea of imitating print presumably stems from designers
who are used to and comfortable with print design. Not only that, but
this sort of style particularly appeals to designers, which is
probably why this technique is most often seen on sites related to graphic
This imitation of print serves one great purpose, it clues you into
general purpose of the site. A menu site for a restaurant, a newspaper
theme for a news site, sketchbook style for, well, you guessed it, an
illustrator. Very similar to the Where Are We article, this technique
is all about atmosphere and the connotations of using a very literal
I am surprised more news sites haven't done this, I would think the
owners first thought would be to replicate their print format on the
web. The reason this probably isn't the case is because when those sites
first launched this sort of styling wasn't possible or practical and
now they are entrenched in bad habits.
If your going to try this style
out don't miss the black letter header. This element single handled binds
the style to old school news paper printing more effectively then just
about anything else in the design. One look at those headers and you
just get it.
Branding a site to resemble a physical package is a much less seen theme.
This sample uses the metaphor of a dosage of photo editing as though
it were medicine. I suppose the idea is that they can cure your imaging
problems. A fun idea, and one that seems to be wide open for exploration.
The real beauty of this site is the application of the theme with a
Generic Print Elements
This one is pretty straight forward. The design uses basic print related
extras that reinforce the idea that design is the subject of the site.
Books, Magazines, Menus, & Sketchbooks
This is by far the most common interpretation of this idea. You don't have
to look far to find a site that resembles a book. Especially when looking
at portfolio sites. Artist keep sketch books, so creating a web based
sketch book only feels natural.
Newspaper website eye tracking study