Since its introduction to the world, computers have served humankind. Initially, their role was to perform mathematical calculations but as time marched on, so did their role. In the latter part of the 20th century and to this day, they have performed a wide variety of tasks from typing documents, keeping records and automating just about any routine human action. The field of visual communication is not spared from the tasks computers perform.
Previous topics have shown how visual communication has evolved through centuries as well as the technology that served as its platform. Computers today have virtually taken over that task and this is made possible by developing the appropriate software for it.
As the name would suggest, desktop publishing or DTP is the use of a computer system to create visual displays of idea and information all done from a computer on a desk. DTP would perform tasks in the area of typography and printing. DTP users can be considered to current descendants of the scribes and illustrators who made illuminated manuscripts during the Middle Ages and publishers of the 19th and 20th centuries. When used competently and effectively, DTP can produce a wide variety of materials, from restaurant menus to magazines and books at a lesser cost compared to commercial printing.
The usual tools of the trade is a computer. Despite the name, latest models of laptop computers can up to the task as desktop computers in performing DTP. Next is the software which is the primary tool. After the introduction of Windows and their graphics-based “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) interactive design, the appropriate software has been created to work on this platform.
Many companies have developed a plethora of these applications. Some of them have stood out such as PageMaker made by a company called Aldus named after the famous typographer of the Renaissance as a form of homage and keeping his legacy alive. MS Office created the Publisher as part of its MS Office suite to give the user some DTP capability. The output can be on printed paper and electronic pages that can be uploaded on web pages.
Related to DTP, graphic design is a vehicle of visual communication through the use of typography, photography and illustration. This is manifested through the design of logos, graphics, signages and other types of visual communication beyond documents which is the realm of DTP which is compliments. The aim of graphic design is to create visual compositions through the above-mentioned methods. The most popular software employed are CorelDraw, InDesign, illustrator and the very famous Photoshop developed by Adobe.
Graphic design can trace their origin back to antiquity and today’s generation consider themselves their modern-day descendants since they perform the similar role only with the aid of modern-day technology offered by computers. They share many elements, theories and principles; practices and techniques, languages and to a certain extent the similar clients who want to engage their services. Given the technology used today, there is no longer a distinction among advertising, art and graphic design, thanks to technology that has interwoven them to the point no one can tell the difference.
This is a spinoff of DTP and graphic design. This encompasses the capabilities of the other two since it also focuses on visual communication but for the purpose of uploading them on websites. They do not only work with text and graphics, but also other media such as audio and video.
Web designers use a wide range of applications depending on what tasks they are performing. It can be inferred here that web design is not a sole job of one person and may require a team given the immense tasks at hand. Some examples of software used would be vector and raster graphics editors to create web-formatted imagery. Specific examples would be Bootstrap, Google Web Designer, and Dreamweaver, XD and Muse from Adobe, as well as some “old” standbys like HTML and CSS, which can generated by WYSIWYG editing software.
The key elements to web design are layout, color, images or graphics, fonts, and most importantly, content.
Layout also matters in web design just like DTP. All the necessary parts (images, text and other media) need to be arranged in a desired order in the same manner as DTP and the best arrangement is likely to catch the attention of the end user or consumer. In the case of web design, the goal is to help the user to get to the information they seek. Thus balance, consistency and integrity are key in layout.
Color helps make web sites very appealing. The right combination of colors is also essential if users are to focus their attention. A wrong combination can turn them away.
Images help enhance the web site to compliment the text to ensure it will not look too plain or drab that can put off users. Like the illuminated manuscripts of the past, these images help the average folk to comprehend what they read. Unless it is a gallery, web pages should keep images to a minimum in consideration of the speed it takes to load.
Fonts, like images these artfully designed characters also enhance the appearance or design of a website. These fonts are the successors to the typefaces of yesteryear designed by the likes of Gutenberg.
Content is the pivotal part of a web page. Text must be relevant and appropriate to the subject or topic, as well as the image so as not to confuse the user. Provisions can be made to allow users to search for something by entering a keyword.
In conclusion, computers can be considered the successors of centuries of visual communication. They did not create something new but rather inherited all the skills and techniques of the earlier generation and synthesized them all into applications that can be performed even by the average person.