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Making it digital

The skills of screen/interactive design can of course be learnt but it is a mistake to assume that a designer of materials for print can utilise the same skills and experience in designing for digital media without undergoing some process of knowledge transfer.

Across all the different aspects of design and production for digital media there are similarly differences that mean that specialist knowledge, experience and skills have to be brought to bear.

The differences though, between producing for paper-based media and for digital media, are no more starkly expressed than in processes that are unique to digital media alone.

With digital media there is a crucial key development stage not required in producing for paper-based media. This is the testing and debugging stage not required in the production of paper-based media because this media does not depend on technology in the same way. Technology may be involved in the production of printed matter, but is not involved in the access and usage of the resource itself.

It is this major difference that also affects the crucial specification stages of a digital media project.

The reason getting things right at the beginning stages of the project is so important is that it is at these stages that the requirements for the foundations of the project are laid. If the foundations are wrong it could catastrophically affect the whole project. To use a building analogy, if the foundations of a house are incorrectly specified and subsequently wrongly laid, sooner or later the cracks will start to appear.

Producing functional, interactive digital media resources is like that. We tend to talk about ‘building’ a resource rather than ‘making’ a resource because it has an underlying structure that has to be robust and has to conform to the functional requirements specified.

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