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Adapting Print for Web

Have you ever read a book and then watched the movie to become disappointed with the movie adaptation? You notice characters are missing or blended together, plot points have been adjusted or removed entirely, and things happen to the characters that didn’t happen in the book. After so many years of film makers adapting novels, how is it that they haven’t mastered making the one-to-one transfer of the text in the book to the images and sounds on the silver screen?

The answer is simple: the medium is different and has different needs.

The solution is not as simple: they must adjust their content for the different medium to meet those needs.

Consider some of the following challenges they have:

  • Time limitations: Writers can pen thousands of pages of words, but the audience is typically not going to sit in the theater for more than 3 hours, sometimes only 2.
  • Character and plot development: The more subplots and characters introduced, the harder to manage the limited film time.
  • Tone and pace: Much more can be said and described in a book, but with the reduced time, you have to pick which pieces to include, and adjust the tone to keep the story flowing smoothly for all the parts that remain in the timeline.

The same is said for adapting print content for the web. These two mediums are quite different, despite using a lot of similar content, like text and images:

  • Space limitations: Print is limited in space, so you can only put so much text on a page or in an article for a magazine. The web provides almost unlimited space for text (based on page loading times), but allows you to select links and buttons to more and more information.
  • Story development: Print requires you to determine a limited number of topics, leaving a lot left unsaid. Web allows the audience to pick which topics they want to learn about in text, image, audio, and/or video forms, along with some highly interactive content (e.g. maps, forms).
  • Look and feel: Print publications can be beautiful and tangible pieces, but their layouts do not translate well on electronic devices. Audiences have to adjust their screens to see words that are breaking apart in odd places, and they have to shift around in uncomfortable ways to view the entire print page. Websites are designed nowadays to react to screen sizes and shift the content around for ease of use. They also have navigational pieces like links and buttons to create more interaction with the content, like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel with almost unlimited options.

When considering including print documents on the web, think about ways you could adapt that content for the web instead to improve the usability and improve relationships with your audience. Contact Web Services for solutions with the variety of Content Module Blocks we offer as well as navigational/wayfinding strategies.