Graphic Design and Web Design – Similarities and Differences

Web design and graphic design are disciplines that overlap in many areas. However, both also have clear distinguishing marks.

With that said, what are the main differences between web design and graphic design? Some of the most remarkable distinctions between web design and graphic design lie in the mediums used (digital vs. print), the knowledge/technical skills required (coding language vs. edition), and several intrinsic properties of their final product (interactivity vs. staticity).

Let’s now do a quick rundown of each of these differences:

Difference # 1: Medium

Web design, while sharing many of the underpinning aesthetic philosophies of graphic design, is, by its very nature, digital. The reason for this should already be evident, but, just for clarity purposes, web design is a by-product of the internet, so it’s to be expected.

Graphic design, on the other hand, started out as printed art and was mainly utilized for brand imaging and similar advertising purposes. Over time, digital graphic design became a viable alternative to its printed counterpart, though it operates on the same foundation.

Difference # 2: Skills

Web design is tied to technical language and programming skills. In that sense, web designers must be well-versed in HTML (HyperText Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and JavaScript, among other languages of this kind.

Graphic design is more heavily focused on drawing techniques, perspective, spacing, color, and other similar parameters. You won’t need to learn about coding or frontend roadmaps to be a graphic designer. You also won’t face the same limitations of web design, particularly when it comes to typography and browser compatibility.

Some of the skills you’ll need as a graphic designer are primarily in relation to photo editing, color models (RGB and CMYK), design principles (white space, hierarchy, color, etc.), and a myriad of others. If you aim to make digital design, you’d also have to be acquainted with software programs like AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, et al.

Difference # 3: The Product

Web design is interactive and dynamic because it’s meant to engage the user in a particular way. For this reason, it’s prone to be animated and react to the user’s actions for a more intuitive UX (user experience).

On a slightly related note, web design is highly flexible and can easily adapt to the times (through the designer’s agency, that is). This can’t be stressed enough, as brands and companies require this ability to morph their online presence to fit with the current design trend.

Graphic design, since its original purpose was to be in print, is not endowed with the same malleability as web design. To give some examples: Book/album covers, brand logos, or posters can’t be changed once printed, and, in many instances, a long time could pass before they undergo any revisions.

In like manner, graphic design tends to be static and only meant to be looked at rather than interacted with. Even in the case of digital designs, there’s no “button to press” or anything that can respond to your commands.