The Design Division

The Differences Between Online and Offline Design

It may seem that online and offline design are one and the same thing, given that they both involve design to put across a key message to a customer. But whilst they do share many similarities, there are many differences between the two that require a different approach when designing on either. Read on to find out more!

Now, given that title, it may seem odd to start with what is the same about online and offline marketing design. However, I make no apologies. The similarities are arguably more important than the differences.

It’s important to establish why. And essentially, it’s this.

These days, as consumers we’re all bombarded with images from every angle. At home there’s TV. On the train we read newspapers. In the car, we listen to the radio. Even in the street, posters scream at us from every corner. And that’s all before we switch our laptops on!

Online there are websites, ads, blogs, webinars, downloads, YouTube, social media – need I go on?

With so much diversity, it’s vital that a brand maintains consistency. And a very obvious way to do this is by synergising your imagery across all media. In other words, a similar look should be used online and offline. For example, if you send out some flyers directing customers to a landing page, then it’s vital that prospective customers can recognise the two media as coming from the same source. You’re constantly hitting the hit same people multiples times, in multiple ways –so the last thing you want are multiple messages.

Having said all that …

It doesn’t mean you use exactly the same imagery and messaging, or the same tone of voice. It’s all down to the purpose of the individual piece in the mix. Flyers, posters and ads are usually designed primarily to gain attention and generate awareness. Online landing pages are there to pick up the baton and guide the visitor through a specific course of action. Websites may also deliver the in-depth information that offline media just do not have the space for. It means that the images, messaging, content and general look and feel will also differ.

In very crude terms, it’s a good trick to use offline for generating awareness, and online to join up the dots. The online presence should reflect enough of the original offline elements to get recognition, but also have more thrust and substance to drive action. So, the conclusion is that it’s synergy but not outright replication – if that makes sense.

Another key point to bear in mind is that online marketing is much more flexible. It’s far easier to experiment, track results and change things around if they’re not working. So designers and marketers can be altogether bolder. They’re more in control.

For more on this and all design issues, both online and offline, call 0845 230 4810.