Living in a world dominated by digital technology has aided our ability to design publications in creative and manipulative ways, a contrast tomthe limiting nature of traditional letterpress.
Using infamous fashion publication vogue as an example to compare a version of the publication from the 1950s to the digital website of the publication today, we can see how in terms of visual hierarchy and grid systems, the limitation of design has evolved as a result of the emergence of digital technologies.
With traditional letterpress forms there are wide limitations as format is confined by size and mainly practicality. As we can see, there are very few headlines in the 1950s issue of Vogue magazine. Content is limited to one image per page, enlarged and the body of text is also very limited compare to the extensive texts that are inherent in modern day publications. Its simplistic nature is mainly due to the time consuming nature of letterpress where a composing stick was used to print the font. The application of photo was a slow and expensive process where photos must have first been converted into engravings before it was printed. Additionally, the application of color was much more immensely difficult as one color had to dry before applying the next.
The lettering of the cover page would have been considered too widely spaced out for practical reading standards today as spacing was employed by the technique of leading in traditional letterpress. There is also lack of framing and bordering in these publications. Due to the lack of technology, a fixed, simple and very limited visual hierarchy and grid system is used.
Now when we look at a digital article in Vogue UK on its webpage, there are digital elements that make the content richer and more interactive.
In contrast to traditional publication by traditional letterpress printing, the average desktop format supports an array of complex hierarchy of icons, menus, images and color palettes. The modern user is empowered by digital technology to arrange access and edit a publication’s content and images through a flexible hierarchy and grid system that is created by the designer. They can also change as users hover over them.
Content is not confined by size as hyperlinks are employed to guide the reader from one page to the next. It is also not limited to texts but different Medias such as videos.
The evolution of modern technology has allowed the designer to be more creative in the method of presenting content through grid systems and visual hierarchy’s that can be easily manipulated to express their own creative impulses and create more visually appealing and engaging formats to match the semantics of their content.