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graphic design vs web design

Graphic Design vs Web Design – What Are the Differences?

Do you know what separates graphic design from web design? If not, you’ve come to the right place. Many people, especially clients who hire web design agencies, are confused by the two terms and often use them interchangeably (although they shouldn’t). To clarify this confusion, here are the main characteristics of and differences between graphic design and web design:

What is graphic design about?

  • Graphic design is the process of creating, manipulating and combining symbols, images or texts to form visual representations of ideas.
  • The end result of graphic design can be a graphic, image or typography that can be used in advertisement, branding products (logos, brochures, posters, etc.) and more.
  • Graphic designers often use specialized software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign to create or manipulate images.
  • Unlike web designers, graphic designers don’t usually do programming, but are more focused on the graphic side of a project.
  • Graphic design projects can be digital (creating visuals for websites) or in print (creating graphics for a brand to be published in a magazine).

What is web design about?

  • Web design is the process that determines the way a website looks and works – from content, layout and structure to graphics, images and animations.
  • Like graphic design, web design also involves creating graphics, images and typography, but the medium is the World Wide Web.
  • Web design is more restrictive than graphic design – quality is often sacrificed for speed. Unlike graphic designers, web designers take into account file size, screen resolution, as well as the speed and performance of a website.
  • Web designers work with image manipulation software like Photoshop, but also use Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress or Drupal.
  • Web designers must also have some knowledge of HTML and CSS. They are also collaborating with web developers who deal with the programming side of a website.
  • Since the end result is a website, web designers also have to take into account the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aspect. SEO involves tweaking the website’s content so as to rank better in search engines.

What are the key differences?

  • Graphic design deals with creating graphics for both print and the web, whereas web design is mainly concerned with the design and inner workings of websites.
  • Graphic designers can create graphics by hand and with technological aids. Web designers almost exclusively work on the computer using specialized software.
  • Web design agencies can hire a graphic designer for crating graphics for websites. A web designer can also replace a graphic designer at their job, but their web skills are not employed.
  • As web design is more restrictive, graphic designers often collaborate with web designers to determine the artistic layout of a web page.
  • A web designer typically has less training in creating graphics for printed materials. Likewise, graphic designers usually don’t have the programming skills and web knowledge to fulfill the role of a web designer.
  • There are people who can do both jobs, but they tend to have more strengths in one area than the other.
  • Unlike graphic designers, web designers typically communicate with their clients in order to make optimizations to the clients’ website, as required by the constant technological changes on the web.

Graphic design and web design will always be different and the differences will always be confusing. These tips can hopefully help you get a grasp of the fundamental differences between the two professions.

Are you looking for web design and development services? Check out our 69 Actionable Tips before Buying Web Design & Development Services. Need more web design tips? Here is a concise breakdown of Website Readability and Accessibility in 2017.

At BrightPink Studio, we design & develop awesome websites, make gorgeous print materials, create logos and other branding items, and more. In our blog, we share news, tips & inspiration - like this article! If you enjoyed it, please share.


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