What does it really feel like to be a designer in this industry today? Well, let me ask you, what was the most rewarding aspect of the last project you finished? My guess is that the answers will be incredibly varied, from solving a particularly difficult interaction design problem, through to some really well constructed CSS. Modern web design is a discipline that spans a huge range of skills. Often though, the wider the span, the thinner the knowledge. That needs to change. Graphic design has such a rich, and useful history. For example, elements of modern typography and typesetting have evolved over hundreds of years. Having at least a basic understanding of this heritage of the craft is going to arm you with some of the right tools to make a difference in your daily work.

The craft of graphic design has changed little in the past fifty years. We're still communicators. We still use colour, image, type, illustrations and layout to tell the story for our clients or customers. Language is still the vehicle for communication on the web. We still use research to inform our decisions. One of the few things that are different is the delivery medium: the web. And with that difference comes one fundamental change. We donst control the content, the users do. The data is theirs to do with as they wish. Graphic designers have long been in control. We take the brief from the client. We control how that message is conveyed. We control the type, the imagery and the production. We spend a long time getting it just right. Then along comes the web and gives all of that control to the user.

Suddenly, they can change the font size. They can break our carefully constructed layout. The considered whitespace goes out of the window as they move the browser window. They can choose the colours–even upload style sheets of their own. Is it any wonder so many advertising and design studios insist on using Flash and resizing the browser window to 100%. It's all about control. To control the message and delivery. The user will see this how I want them to. I cannot understate how much of a shift that is. From schooling, right up through early career development, graphic designers rely on that constant. Good graphic design, be it on the web, print, or broadcast, is the successful marriage of content and presentation. But, on the web, content is often abstracted from the presentation, such as being presented in an RSS reader, or content is delivered last in a project and ‘plugged–in’ to a template. This is one of the biggest hurdles many great designers have to get over. Embracing the web means knowing your crafted design might be viewed differently. I think this is a good thing for graphic design.

Graphic design – as I hope I've illustrated throughout this book – is much more than how something looks. Typographic design in particular pays attention to how language is structured, chunked–up, listed, and tabulated, not just the typeface choice. Web design needs to move beyond layout, fonts and colours, browser quirks, and the latest JavaScript library, and embrace the true roots of the practice: the communication of information. And we can do plenty of that when we're out of control. By working closely with Information Architects, Writers, Developers, and Clients. By being involved in the process from day one. By paying attention to content. By art directing and trying to tell stories with our designs and interfaces. By passionately embracing the medium. And, by constantly learning. We don't need to be completely in control to communicate. Writing a book on design for the web isn't the easiest thing to do. The web moves fast. Conventions come and go. Best practices change every six months. To write a book that is a snapshot of this flux would not only be a mistake, but actually pretty difficult. In fact, a book probably wouldn't be the best medium for that type of content.

But this little book isn't about documenting a moment in time, or providing pretty pictures of the latest trends and biggest, best designs on the web. It's about the basics of graphic design craft – the basics of communicating by design. I hope it will act both informatively and as an ongoing reference.

Now, why not go back to the beginning, and read it again. You may have missed something.

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