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Graphic design vs web design: What’s the difference?

September 28, 2022

For many people, it can be easy to assume that graphic design and web design are one and the same. It’s true that there may be some crossover between the two jobs, but there are a surprising number of differences that distinguish them from each other. Let’s take a closer look at this below.

The fundamentals of graphic design

Originally, the role of a graphic designer centred around creating book covers, brochures and magazines, as well as logos and posters. A lot of this work has shifted more and more online as software has improved and digital marketing has taken over from print.

Despite this, the key points of graphic design still focus on colour theory, typography and layout – all design features which contribute heavily to the imagery a graphic designer must create. Unlike web designs, they are much more concerned with the immediate impact of visuals in any given medium.

The fundamentals of web design

On the other hand, web designers are more concerned with the user experience and eventually the user interface of a website. While it is still important for them to understand the basics of colour theory and technology, their role is based more on the process of using a website rather than what it looks like.

To help a user have a positive and seamless experience with a website, it’s the web designer’s job to organise content and arrange images; for example, to build a story and a natural progression through the website.

So what’s the difference between them?

While it may seem as though these are similar roles, there are some key differences that differentiate graphic design vs web design.

1. Interactivity

One of the main ways to tell if a website design has been done by a web designer or a graphic designer is whether they’re interactive or not. Graphic designers are predominantly involved in the static elements of a website.

For example, they would be in charge of designing logos and elements that don’t change. On the other hand, web designers are responsible for the interactive parts of the design, meaning they are tasked with creating clickable buttons, website menus, motion graphics and videos. Anything that you can click on or even hover over to change will have been done by a web designer.

2. Technical skills required

There is a large difference in the skill set needed for the two jobs. Graphic designers mainly use design software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Web designers, in contrast, need to be competent in coding languages such as HTML and CSS. An understanding of the more technical side of web design, involving code and commands, means that a graphic designer couldn’t do the work of a web designer without these additional skills.

3. Considering the broader application of the design

Another way that the two jobs vary is in the necessity to accommodate various displays. For a graphic designer, it’s possible to create striking visuals without having to think about the device that will be used to display them. If they are designing for print, the problem is eradicated completely, while for screens, their designs will appear largely the same.

For web designers, this obstacle is greater. They have to consider how the design of the website will appear and whether it will function correctly when accessed through laptops, computers, tablets or phones and on a variety of screen sizes. All kinds of differences must be considered as it’s part of their role to take into account the user experience for every device. This is difficult since changing an element to fit one screen size or layout can make it unreadable or appear strange in another.

Ultimately, while they may be similar in the fact that both roles contribute to the overall design of a website, there are some key differences between the two. If you’re interested in a career in either of these fields, or you need to hire one to help you with your website design, knowing exactly what each professional does will be very important.

At Fifteen we have a highly skilled team of web designers and graphic designers. Whether you’re thinking about redesigning your website or you’re looking to create new brochures, our team can help! Why not get in touch with us today to find out more information?




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