Jump-start your next design project with foundational tips on designing for onscreen viewing.
Matching digital advertisements for an art show displayed on the screens of a tablet and a phone

An introduction to digital design  

Digital design is any design intended to be viewed on a screen, whether it’s a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or other device. Much like designing for print, it has its own terminology and best practices. 

You can create many different types of digital designs in Adobe InDesign, including:

  • E-books (EPUB format) 
  • E-magazines (also called e-zines) 
  • Presentations 
  • Portfolios 
  • Digital ads 
  • Social content like Facebook banners, Twitter layouts, and Instagram content

Let’s explore some digital design essentials.

Lay the foundations for your project

When creating a new InDesign document, consider the following:

  • Will you start from scratch or with a professionally designed Adobe Stock template?
  • Choose the correct page size for the intended device when possible, but know you can always change it later.
  • Set the measurement units as pixels.
Using the New Document dialog box to set up a new document

Set up your document for success 

Once you’ve created a document, define your project further with additional parameters.

  • Add, remove, and reorder pages in your document in the Pages panel.
  • Adjust margins (the space between the page’s edge and your content), columns, and custom guides for alignment.
  • Use master pages in the Pages panel as templates for consistent elements like page numbers.
  • Make sure your design works for different page sizes, orientations, or aspect ratios using Liquid Layout and alternate layouts.

Add imagery

Choosing the right imagery for onscreen viewing is important for clarity and quick load times.

  • Raster graphics are made up of pixels. Common formats include JPEG and PNG. They must be the correct resolution for onscreen viewing — one that’s clear and is quick to load. For digital design, we usually aim for 72 pixels per inch (ppi). See the image below for a raster example on the left and vector example on the right.
  • Vector graphics are defined by lines and can be scaled up or down without any loss of quality. InDesign supports a variety of vector file types, including AI and SVG.
A side-by-side comparison of raster and vector graphics

Get creative with color and fonts

  • Digital designs use RGB colors (red, green, and blue). In InDesign, you can save colors as you create a visual identity in the Swatches panel and get ideas from the Adobe Color Themes panel.
  • Choose fonts that work on the devices you’re designing for.
Using the Adobe Color Themes panel to select color

Interactivity

The ability to add interactivity to your design is what sets digital design apart from print design. From web links and animation to video and fillable forms, you have the freedom to build multimedia experiences that capture users’ attention.

Note that different formats and devices support different kinds of interaction. Certain elements may not work in certain contexts. It’s best to test.

Share your digital designs 

Export your digital designs in formats like PDF and EPUB. You can also use the Publish Online feature to publish any InDesign document online and get a shareable URL.

Understanding the digital design creation process, including specific settings and requirements, will make your design a success from the start.

01/20/2021
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