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The Place of Print in a Digital World

23 August 2018

Digital is all around us and governs much of our day to day lives. We use digital for almost everything from online shopping to remotely turning the heating on when we’re on our way home to business manufacturing and processes. So is print now a novelty? Or obsolete? It can be hard to see with the numerous digital advancements what the place of print in a digital world truly is.

Yet there’s something to be said about how having a physical printed ‘thing’ makes us feel. Long gone are the days of regular interaction with pen and paper. Computers, phones and tablets have replaced our need to write anything down or to touch paper. Instead we concentrate on reading, scrolling, tapping. We repeatedly touch only one texture, or with digital voice assistants, simply speak aloud and let tech do the hard work for us. We miss and crave that tactility we once took for granted.

Digital advertising, for example, is at the forefront of marketing plans because an advert is placed directly in front of a readers eyes. Targeted at a specific readership. But although digital advertising is growing rapidly, having the same advert printed onto paper and shown to the viewer can in fact have a greater impact on sales. Why? Because having a physical object makes a person pay closer attention to the detail. Simply by feeling the texture of the printed sheets and seeing the colours and type in hard print, we believe in something more than if we’d seen it in a digital form. Print evokes emotion and it feels more trustworthy.

Print is also now a creative and valuable way to reengage consumers in those businesses or groups which have a physical client presence, for example business cards for beauticians or leaflets for community groups. It’s also for those who aren’t digitally minded. It’s easy to forget that there’s an entire generation that aren’t using digital every day, let alone every 15 seconds to update us on their latest Instafamous status. Not everyone is tech savvy and, for perhaps the older generation, print plays a vital role in communication, leisure and keeping up to date with society through the written word, newspapers and good old fashioned books.

Notebooks, planners and printed calendar items are also now in high demand. Beautiful stationery is a luxury. Items like these have a niche target market but one which definitely does exist as a new generation of men and women looking to keep track of their digital lifestyles have turned to print to keep organised. Putting pen to paper has a psychological effect as sometimes it just feels great to create using our own two hands.

Print still very much has a place in a digital world but is entirely complimentary to digital. Both should be used alongside one another for balanced results. Or, actually, just for fun.

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