Skip to main content

Web Design vs. Graphic Design: What You Should Know

Web design vs graphic design are two different roles that work together. Learn about graphic vs web development, when you need one, and how they work here.

When it comes to web design vs. graphic design, it’s important to know the differences. They both work together, but they also stand alone. While most people think they are the same, there are specific skill sets for each that are important to understand. Whether you’re looking to choose a specific career path or are a business owner looking to revamp your website, knowing the differences between graphic vs. web design can help you find the right career or designer.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences in graphic design vs. web development, their similarities, and how they can work together.

Graphic Design vs. Web Design

The technical skills needed for each profession differ enough to require additional knowledge and training. Web designers must know programming, while graphic designers must have a strong knowledge of applying creativity and design to create concepts. Graphic designers are the ones to consult for print ads, marketing materials, a logo, social media images, and newsletters. On the other hand, web designers create websites, make websites mobile-friendly, and are the people to call when you want to make changes to speed up your website. If you’re looking to design a beautiful website, you need a web designer.

Let’s take a look at more in-depth definitions of graphic design and web design below.

What Is Graphic Design?

A simple graphic design definition refers to graphic design as the practice of producing visual content to relay a specific message. Graphic design can be used as a way to artistically express ideas and thoughts, or it can be used in a more commercial way to visually communicate messages and ideas using graphical and textual elements. Graphic design helps communicate with the audience, conveying the meaning and message of a product, campaign, project, or event.

What Is Web Design?

Web design is the art of planning, conceptualizing, and arranging content and elements to access and share online. This deals with the overall functionality of how the website works and includes the design of the user interface on web and mobile apps.

Web design handles the look and feel of a website, telling a story to enhance the user experience. It also focuses on the functionality of a website by taking on tasks like testing websites, optimizing websites, and ensuring websites are running smoothly and efficiently.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  • HTML: There are a lot of website builders on the market that make it easy to create websites, but the industry standard is to have knowledge of HTML. HTML is also known as HyperText Markup Language. This is used to provide structure to the webpage’s content. A web designer should also have some knowledge of JavaScript, which is also an industry-wide software.

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.
  • Digital technology: Technology skills are very helpful for graphic designers that also operate as visual designers. A working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is helpful.

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.

On the other hand, a web designer can help build a website for your business and incorporate key elements, such as logos, brand colors, and other important features.

How Graphic Design & Web Design Work Together

Graphic design plays a major role in web design and development because it communicates the brand’s ideas or stories visually on a company’s website. Their input helps boost brand awareness to elevate and enhance the user experience. For instance, when considering blog design, these two roles work together to make sure the user experience is correct while utilizing the creativity and imagination of a graphic designer to bring all the elements together. One isn’t as effective if they aren’t working together.

The overall objective with both of these roles is to keep the audience in mind as the designs and graphics come together. Finding out what they want and need and then translating it into captivating imagery and a highly functional website works wonders. The roles and focus of the two are different, but they work together to create synergy and balance. This ensures the visual and functional aspects are covered, delivering a high-quality website that meets or exceeds expectations.

Do You Need a Web and Graphic Designer?

It depends. While most graphic designers may have some knowledge of the logistics behind building a website, a web designer and developer have more expertise in this area. If the graphic designer does not have as much experience designing a website and vice versa with the web designer, they must both work together to ensure the user experience is memorable.

While you do not need a web and graphic designer, if one person can do it all, it can be a difficult and tedious process. Having the resources and knowledge of both roles can make a difference in the way things are presented to your audience. Each role has its own specialties. If the roles are overlapping, one may encounter difficulties when trying to take on too much. Each role has its own expertise, so having a web and graphic designer makes sense if it’s financially feasible.

Create a Website with Mailchimp

If you don’t have access to a web or graphic designer, there are tools available that help you create a website for free. Mailchimp’s tools are robust with many features that help take your website and marketing assets to the next level. The creative assistant creates and resizes designs that help elevate the standard of your brand. While you may not have a graphic designer on staff, this AI-powered tool helps create multichannel designs for a cohesive, professional look and feel.

This program has brand personality settings to control the look and feel of every asset to make sure your brand colors and messaging remain consistent. Users can edit each creative piece for specific channels like email, Facebook, Instagram, and even landing pages. This alleviates some of the need for a graphic designer while making simple designs that attract and engage your audiences.

The Mailchimp content studio syncs all your brand’s files and assets to help create consistent campaigns. Used in conjunction with the creative assistant, designs are easily accessible and ready to include in the creation of the website. The content studio has many benefits:

  • Management of digital assets: With so many platforms and content needing to be distributed, it can be hard to find what you need all in one place. If you don’t have a solid naming structure, things can quickly get lost. Documents, files, photos, and other brand-related files can be connected to your social media accounts for everything to be housed and accessed from one place.
  • Cohesiveness: The content studio is the perfect way to create a cohesive brand experience. You can set a default logo for each marketing campaign and reuse assets across multiple channels and campaigns.
  • Collaboration: Whether you’re a team of 2 or 10, you can use the content studio to share, find, and quickly repurpose content without the worry of being off-brand. This makes things easier to set up campaigns and assets.
  • From concept to publishing: Assets are easily added to any campaign in a matter of seconds once the images are uploaded.

Both tools are essential in supporting the use and development of a website to represent your brand. The Mailchimp website builder was designed to assist in creating, customizing, and promoting visually pleasing websites that are simple yet functional. While a web designer or developer is needed to code websites to bring your vision to life, the website builder requires no design or code experience. Websites can be up and running within the hour, depending on the creative assets and messaging you choose for your website.

Mailchimp makes it easy to embrace a look and feel you can be proud of. With pre-built, professional layouts that can be used for any section, you can revise and rearrange however you like. When building your website, you’ll be able to see your changes as they occur and use imagery from the stock photo library to complement your design.

Armed with high-level tools that allow you to set up appointments, schedule social media, design your creatives, and build your audience with forms, targeting, and reports to analyze the data, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong and memorable brand with or without the need for a web designer or graphic designer. For more information on the Mailchimp tools, get started building a website for free today.

Share This Article