While many "old school" designers abhor the Internet and what it has done to the graphic-design industry, others welcome the change as they did when the personal computer changed graphic design forever. There are four areas that have seen the most impact: collaboration, education, medium and plagiarism.
According to business writer Richard Thornton, the invention of the personal computer made it possible for untrained designers to create their own documents. This injured the market for professionals, as anyone could buy their own software, which included document templates, typefaces, clip art and more. The end user can also go online and purchase or sometimes download for free any of these things as well.
Others, such as designer Todd Bertsch, recognize that today's Web designer usually wears the hat of computer programmer as well. With the sophistication of search engines, designers must learn to utilize programming and SEO (search engine optimization) techniques in order to get client's pages seen at the top of the list on popular sites such as Google.
The Internet has impacted graphic design and many other industries in a major way. Just as the advent of the personal computer allowed designers to take their designs off the drafting table and on the screen, the Internet has created a new medium for design, a new way to collaborate, more opportunities for education, and an easier way to plagiarize the work of others.
The single most beneficial thing that the Internet has done is to create a new medium for designers. Design becomes a living, breathing animal that users can interact with. Many broadcast designers find the Web a natural evolution of their skills, while print designers may constantly struggle. Whether watching a movie, flash animation, or using interactive tools on a well-designed website, the user is no longer a passive participant.
With the importance of SEO, Web designers must also be technical experts, and understand the behind-the-scenes programming that helps a page rise high in search engine rankings. Designing a beautiful page for a client that can't be found is of no value. So the designer becomes computer programmer.
Collaboration using the Internet is instant. Online communities allow a designer to work together with her peers to come up with solutions that arise in everyday work. Uploading work to the web for review or tweaking is simple with the massive online storage space (many times free) and high-speed Internet available to anyone at a reasonable cost. A designer in Japan can instantly comment on the work of a designer in the United States. Designers have clients worldwide instead of just in their own backyard. Cultural boundaries melt away and influence becomes farther reaching than ever before.
A slew of schools now offer graphic design as a major. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design allows students a practical, working knowledge of their chosen field. Adobe has create the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) and specialist program to allow those highly skilled in Adobe programs to show potential clients and employers their abilities.
Many certificate programs are available to older students looking to switch their careers without the expense of going back to schools. These programs many times promise more than is available to those without a degree and years of experience in graphic design, but they can be helpful to those who already have a publishing background.
The biggest problem that both graphic designers and writers face regarding the Internet is plagiarism. It is simple to save a web page designed by someone else and use it as your own. Plagiarists can download graphics with a click of the mouse. Adding copyrights to images can help, but it is impossible to know who has taken your things unless you are constantly looking for them. Many users are unaware of copyright laws and that they are violating them by using your work. A simple email after looking up the site owner is usually enough to deter them.
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