Influence of Print: Incorporating Newspaper & Magazine Layout Design

January 12, 2011 • By

New web pages are being designed every day. Great web designers not only keep up with the rest of the pack, but stays ahead of it by tracking what the current trends in web design are. Right now the influence of print design on the web is making quite an appearance in online page design. While many consider the days of newspaper to be archaic and magazines to be a waste of trees, there is great design to be found in these publications. Using that as inspiration for your web pages could jump you up to the cream of the web designer crop.

Print publications have decades worth of experience in the type of design that works and is the most impactful. The best design is always powerful, clear, simple and easy to understand. Negative or white space is king when you are talking about print advertisements including billboards, magazine layouts, newspaper ads and other forms of visual marketing.

The Internet has not necessarily followed this method of reaching their target audiences and making a strong statement to their traffic. One of the greatest benefits to web design is that users are not restricted in what they can say. There is no per word charge when designing a webpage. There was also a lot of flexibility in what graphics could really do. Print advertising does not allow users to incorporate audio, video or Flash. The novelty of being able to design and use these tools is really the fuel for early webpage design.

Today, however, the market is asking for less clutter. They are overloaded with all the information available on the Internet. There is a demand for better search engines, easier to navigate websites, and simply less animation and distracting graphics in modern web design.

This type of design is especially frustrating and ineffective for businesses and marketers who are trying to get one message across. It is too easy for that simple message to get lost in the bells and whistles of an overly design website.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, web designers are going to the experts of old. Print publications have mastered these challenges and understand what it takes to get an audience’s attention.


The selection of a font is crucial in web page design. Designers need to have an understanding of how fonts affect a design in general, how they affect readers and how best to use them. Typography is design’s way of communicating without speaking. It is common knowledge that the written world can be easily misinterpreted since there are know vocal inflections or an idea of tone.  If your message is not clear or can be easily miscommunication, you lose impact. If you have a great message, but it does not stand out in your design, you lose impact. Designers have to find the right balance in order to properly communication with their target audience and traffic.

Editorial Layouts

When web design began, traditional layout rules were thrown out the window. Frames and tables were the thing and design revolved around creative ways to use them. However, with the demand for simplification and the popularity of blogs – today’s websites more closely resemble their print ancestors.

Print layout design, especially magazine layouts, is great for controlling content heavy sites as well. Not only are the advertisements influential, but the editorial content and design is becoming the go to for blogs, ezines and other content rich websites.

Big bold headlines are common using keywords that enhance SEO techniques. However, the art of the headline is the offspring of newsprint. Other common print approaches that are being used more in web design include indented text, quotations, text in multiple columns and sidenotes and footnotes.

Striking and interesting graphics and photography have always been fundamental parts of design. The layout of these images is also being influenced by traditional print layouts.

Of course, the reason websites were not using these techniques originally is the complication of creating pages using this design style. This is no different today. Beginning web designs may find it difficult to code this kind of layout since the advanced HTML and CSS can take up much more time than more common design approaches.

However, those designers who are familiar with traditional web design are looking for ways to make their sites more appealing and interesting. Incorporating print design ideas and layouts is one of the ways to make a designer’s work stand out. Magazine layouts are known to have even more impact than television advertising – this means spending time studying magazines and using them for inspiration and motivation.