Web Design vs. Graphic Design: 8 Key Differences
One of the main differences between web design and graphic design is the medium in which they are used. Web design is creating a design for the web and online use, while graphic design is primarily designed for print. Graphic design doesn’t have to know about programming, speed, and other technical matters involved with web design. While graphic designs may be used on a website, the overall functionality and placement of those graphic designs are dependent on the web designer. Here are key differences between the two:
- The technical skill level is different: Web designers must know about programming and be familiar with multiple programs that support web building. Graphic design doesn’t require that type of knowledge because, for the most part, graphic design is permanent. Designs can be customized without having to go through many limitations like web design.
- Web is dynamic, graphic is permanent: Web design has its own ebb and flow, with the flexibility to adapt and change as needed. For the most part, graphic design creates permanent imagery that typically remains unchanged once it’s printed or produced.
- Graphic design is static, and web design is interactive: Graphic design is not as interactive as web design. While you can see and touch it, the graphic does not change unless it’s animated. Web design requires the user to completely interact with the design by clicking buttons and other navigation to increase its functionality.
- File size requirements: If someone is designing a graphic for the web, then pixels and DPI can become a factor. Images for the web have specific size and pixel guidelines, but off of the web, the image requires more pixels to properly display. Web design has to focus on these technical restraints like loading time and file size to keep the website functioning properly.
- Typography limitations: Although there are numerous advances in web design, there are still limitations to typography. If a user’s browser does not recognize the typeface in their CSS, the font will be different from the initial design. While the web designer may have the font on their computer and use it in the design, this could cause problems if it is not a standard type font. In graphic design, if you have the font on your computer when using the typeface to print the design, everything comes out the same.
- An ongoing relationship is required with web design: When a website is finished, that’s not the end. There are constant updates and maintenance needed for upkeep. Web design requires continuous involvement. Graphic design is not that demanding. Once the design is completed, it’s finished unless there are changes needed to the original design. It’s easy to make a quick change to a website, but making changes to a graphic design once printed can be costly.
- They use different software: Web designers use programming and web building tools, while graphic designers use tools like Adobe or Canva to make their creations.
- Web designers work with web developers: Web designers work with developers to bring their ideas to life in the form of code. Developers help designers understand the limitations that may be present based on the design they are attempting to create. Web designers work in tandem with others to figure out the goals and objectives of the website, giving their prototypes and wireframes to a web developer. Web development vs. graphic design is different because, unlike their process, graphic designers are the only artist creating their work. They are the idea behind the creative vision.
Training and Experience
Web designers and graphic designers require different training and experience to get their jobs done. Web designers typically need skills in the following:
- Visual design: You need some design background to correctly implement the look and feel of a website. This includes understanding grid systems, color theory, proportions, and typography.
- User Experience (UX): This is crucial, as it addresses how people will feel when interacting with the website. The skills for a user-first mentality must be applied. This helps in building wireframes and designing prototypes and templates in the design of each webpage.
- Software knowledge: You must use the right tools to be successful as a web designer. Industry designers use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Sketch for both graphic and web design that requires mockups, design assets, and modifying photos.
- CSS: Knowledge of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a must, as it works directly with HTML. This is a coding language used to talk to browsers on how to format and style the HTML on a web page. CSS allows you to change the fonts, colors, and background. It is the one true design element for a website.
Conversely, graphic designers need a different set of skills, including:
- Typography: A graphic designer should be able to arrange letters and words in an aesthetically appealing way.
- Design principles: Working knowledge of how to use white space, color, hierarchy, and other principles.
- UX design: An understanding of simple UX design helps create simple designs to assist web designers and developers.
- Fonts: The appearance of the design is affected by the choice of font, size, and weight. Creating an appealing appearance with the right fonts helps in engaging audiences.
- RGB and CMYK: Using the right color set is key. RGB is usually used for digital designs, while CMYK is used for print projects.
- Use of brand guidelines: Being able to follow outstanding brand guidelines is a must. These are standards for an organization and its brand’s presentation.
- Photo editing: Being able to edit stock photos or take photos to edit is important, as many projects require the use of photography.
Both professions need soft skills that overlap like collaboration skills, communication skills, time management, creativity, problem-solving, knowledge of design trends, social media, and client management.
Their Overall Role
The overall role of a web designer is to design the layout and aesthetic for websites. This includes coding, designing, building the interface, and navigation. Web designers create the color scheme of the website to blend with the brand identity, design the buttons and other controls, create mockups for the developers, fix any issues with functionality, and update and maintain the site.
The overall role of a graphic designer is to make the company or organization prominent and recognizable to the public. They use images, text, media, and other content to communicate messages and ideas through the use of creatives. They define design requirements, visualize and create graphics including layouts, illustrations, and logos for marketing and advertising purposes and the visual aspects of websites, exhibits, booths, books, and more. Graphic designers are instrumental in redefining an idea for individuals of all learning styles. It works to bring messaging to life that evokes emotions and entices them to purchase.
What Tasks They Complete for Your Business
Graphic designers create a visual identity for a business. This includes creating color palettes, logos, and typography that work together. They create the imagery for books and other publications, the imagery for ads and campaigns, commercials, product packaging, user interfaces on apps and websites, and more. They also create digital signage, layouts, and social media creatives. They keep up with design trends to make sure your brand is always aligned.