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Chapter: User Interface Design

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Printed Pages versus Web Pages

Page size: Printed pages are generally larger than their Web counterparts. They are also fixed in size, not variable like Web pages.

Printed Pages versus Web Pages

 

Page size: Printed pages are generally larger than their Web counterparts. They are also fixed in size, not variable like Web pages. The visual impact of the printed page is maintained in hard-copy form, while on the Web all that usually exists are snapshots of page areas. The visual impact of a Web page is substantially degraded, and the user may never see some parts of the page because their existence is not known or require scrolling to bring into view. The design implications: the top of a Web page is its most important element, and signals to the user must always be provided that parts of a page lie below the surface.

 

Page rendering: Printed pages are immensely superior to Web pages in rendering. Printed pages are presented as complete entities, and their entire contents are available for reading or review immediately upon appearance. Web pages elements are often rendered slowly, depending upon things like line transmission speeds and page content. Design implications: Provide page content that downloads fast, and give people elements to read immediately so the sense of passing time is diminished.

 

Page layout: With the printed page, layout is precise with much attention given to it. With Web pages layout is more of an approximation, being negatively influenced by deficiencies in design toolkits and the characteristics of the user’s browser and hardware, particularly screen sizes. Design implication: Understand the restrictions and design for the most common user tools.

 

Page resolution: the resolution of displayed print characters still exceeds that of screen characters, and screen reading is still slower than reading from a document. Design implication: Provide an easy way to print long Web documents.

 

Page navigation: Navigating printed materials is as simple as page turning. Navigating the Web requires innumerable decisions concerning which of many possible links should be followed. Design implications are similar to the above— provide overviews of information organization schemes and clear descriptions of where links lead.

 

Interactivity: Printed page design involves letting the eyes traverse static information, selectively looking at information and using spatial combinations to make page elements enhance and explain each other. Web design involves letting the hands move the information (scrolling, pointing, expanding, clicking, and so on) in conjunction with the eyes.

 

Page independence: Because moving between Web pages is so easy, and almost any page in a site can be accessed from anywhere else, pages must be made freestanding. Every page is independent. Printed pages, being sequential, fairly standardized in organization, and providing a clear sense of place, are not considered independent. Design implication: Provide informative headers and footers on each Web page.

 

Merging Graphical business system and Web

 

Strength of the Web lies in its ability to link databases and processing occurring on a variety of machines within a company or organization. The graphical business system and the Web will merge into a common entity. These Web systems are called intranets.


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