Blog Editorial

The Game is Changing. You Should Be Too.

I’ve tried to write this article several different ways. In fact, this is probably the tenth revision so far. This time, however, I’m simply going to shoot from the hip and say what I feel. As many of you know the world of graphic design is something that is constantly evolving. Though some principles remain the same, the game is changing. Unfortunately, I don’t see a vast majority of designers changing with it. For decades the worlds of print and web design have resided safely in their own respective neighborhoods. Print lived in a high-rise penthouse, while web chilled out in a studio loft. Well, nowadays the web community is “movin’ on up” and the distinction between print design and web design is become increasingly difficult to discern. I’m of the opinion that we should no longer try to separate each other into categories like print or web, but merely call ourselves designers as a whole.

The problem is that most people seem to be stuck in one world or another… The question is, why? As designers (print or web), the thing that made us successful was our creativity and innate curiosity towards technology and aesthetics. Why are we now afraid to step outside the box? Are we so affixed in our ways that we can’t even muster the energy to learn a new skill or explore new technology? If not, then I say it’s time for you to get out of the game, because obviously the game has passed you by.

I’m lucky. A few years ago I knew that there was something brewing with this whole “web thing” and I made a conscious effort to learn things like HTML, CSS, and UX/UI. I also learned that many of the things I was taught as a print designer, still applied to the web world. The difference was in the tools and the finished product… The methodology and process, however, were nearly identical. As a print person, you’re used to working with inches, picas, points and paper. Well, as a web designer, you’re simply using pixels, monitors, phones and tablets. All you have to do is make the connection in your head and the rest (along with your natural talent) will take care of itself.

You have to stop treating this as though someone is trying to take something away from you. Yes, it sucks that print isn’t the “big dog” on the block anymore, but who cares… really? There is now an opportunity for you to tell stories and create experiences in a way you never could with a printed piece. Now you have the ability to incorporate so many new things into your work like audio, video, and interactive components. By using these new tools that you have available, you are able to extend the experience for your end user… and that’s what it’s all about, right?

I know it’s not easy. I realize it probably won’t be fun (at first) either. However if you want to survive and not become one of the casualties of this conversion, you must adapt and you must do it now. Use the creative energy that got you to where you are today and explore the new tools and possibilities around you. That’s the only way you’ll survive in the long run. Trust me, as a print guy living in a web world, I’ve made a lot of changes that I didn’t want to make… but I’m still standing and having a blast doing what I love every single day!


Below are several resources that I’ve collected to help get you started down the path of learning some web based technologies. All of these are part of the lynda.com Online Training Library, so they do require a subscription or DVD purchase. However, they are all great and will give you a great introduction into some of the core concepts of web/interactive design as well as digital publishing. If you’d like a FREE 7-Day Trial to lynda.com you can visit this link and try it out for yourself.

Web Design Fundamentals – by James Williamson

Typography for Web Designers – by Laura Franz

CSS: Core Concepts – by James Williamson

CSS Page Layouts – by James Williamson

CSS for Designers – Molly E. Holzschlag and Andy Clarke

Illustrator CS5 for Web and Interactive Design – by Mordy Golding

Photoshop CS5 for the Web – by Jan Kabili

Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training – by James Williamson

Up and Running with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite – by James Lockman

InDesign CS5.5 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad – by Anne-Marie Concepcion

InDesign CS5: Interactive Documents and Presentations – by James Fritz


  1. I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote. I remember cutting amberlith for a project in my design program at college and now I only occasionally do print work but the fundamentals that I learned then still apply in todays web design. I made the change in 2007 and invested a lot of time learning dreamweaver, CSS and WordPress and most of that learning was through Lynda.com and still is.

    The big difference between the print and web world is that in the print industry changes were slow compared to how quickly the web world changes and that alone can be daunting. As soon as you have mastered one thing, you need to learn the latest thing and so on.

    1. Tracy, this is a great example of what I’m talking about… Thanks for sharing! The web does change VERY fast, and it takes a special person to stay on top of it. However most of us have that curious bone in our body that allows us to freely explore these things without even realizing that we’re doing it… That’s the awesome part about being a “creative” in my opinion!

      Thanks for reading, and again, thanks for the comment!

  2. I too come from a print background and I do still love print work. I miss the days where I could attend press-checks. I loved those! I worked with some great printers. Loved seeing a job roll off the press. Something very tactile about that. Digital printing did away with a lot of that but not all. Off-set is still wonderful for certain projects.

    Anywho also around 2007 I realized that the design world was whizzing by me and I had some serious catching up to do. I was turned on to lynda.com by a creative staffing agency with a free trial and my goodness I went full speed a head! Got myself a binder notebook and went to town!! Lost track of how many courses I did but I learned so much and have since turned several other design friends on to the courses too! And Justin VERY COOL that you are now part of lynda.com!

    Still much to learn and I agree that sometimes with the web, it can be overwhelming that no sooner than you learn something – something else comes along that you need to know. It does keep life interesting though..

  3. I would add Jim Babbage’s excellent Fireworks class at lynda.com to your list.

    In many ways, Fireworks is to screen graphics and the web world what InDesign is to the print world. You can take your Photoshop and Illustrator resources and do amazing web site and mobile app layout work in Fireworks. It has features (auto-shapes, master pages, shared layers, etc.) not found in Photoshop or Illustrator. It’s ability to do both vector and raster is awesome.

  4. As a fellow former print designer, I agree with this article 1000%! I am also excited about your recent joining of the Lynda.com team, and I think it is about time I got my subscription back up and running. I have learned so much from that site over the years, with some of my favorites being Deke McClelland’s Photoshop and Illustrator: One-on-One courses. I also loved the creative inspiration series and the fact that they cover such an enormous variety of topics and software. Congrats, and can’t wait to see you at D2WC this year! XD

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