Web Design vs. Graphic Design: What’s the Difference?

Digital Innovation

As a business owner, you’ll need the services of a professional designer at one point at another. You’ll probably wonder whether to hire a graphic designer or a web designer at that point. After all, they both appear like the same thing, but the truth is that they require different skills. Besides, they differ in their market sizes and worth. For example, the graphic design industry had a global value of $45.8 billion in 2021. Conversely, the web design market stood at approximately $40.8 billion in the same year.

How else do the two services differ? This post delves into the concept of web design vs. graphic design. It defines what each type entails and how to choose the right service depending on your business needs.

What is Web Design?

Web design is developing the feel and visual look of a website. In other words, a web designer focuses on:

  • The user experience of a website (71% of web designers know that a non-responsive website is a leading reason for the 40% bounce rate on smartphones. They, therefore, must focus on enhancing the user experience across all devices.)
  • Content organization
  • Wireframe and prototypes layouts
  • Images layout in a way that tells a story
  • The design of the final user interface (UI)

Additionally, web designers must have some graphic design skills. To explain, they must master the visual fundamentals required in graphic design. These include typography, hierarchy, color theory, and layout, which are crucial in the UI design process.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design entails creating vivid visual images to present an idea while combining typography with illustration, motion graphics, and photos. Designers traditionally worked on print projects like books, brochures, and business cards. However, with the evolution of technology, their design jobs span across various digital projects. For example, you can hire a graphic designer to create digital signage content graphics.

Designers in this category have in-depth know-how of design fundamentals. They have skills in using software like Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Canvas, and InDesign to come up with their creations.

Web Design vs. Graphic Design: Key Differences

With the definition of web design vs. graphic design clear, let’s get into their key differences.

Technical Design Skills

The most notable difference between web design vs. graphic design is technical skills. On the one hand, web designers must be familiar with CSS, HTML, JavaScript, PHP, and other concepts to make their design work on the web. Moreover, they must understand programming languages in-depth to enable them to convert their designs into running websites.

Since a website is a dynamic medium, web designers can specialize in one of the two types of designers. These are UI/UX designers or user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers. UI designers focus more on the layout and overall style of the web pages. UX designers have skills in the usability or functionality of a website and how it feels to the user.

In contrast, graphic designers don’t require all these different skills to accomplish their tasks. Consequently, they can fully customize their print designs without too many technical limitations.

Dynamic Vs. Permanent

An excellent example of differentiating web design from graphic design is to compare an iPad to a painting. While both have beautiful visual elements, the iPad is interactive with the other isn’t. Website design strives to create an experience that people can participate in, rather than just consume it. It also has the power to change and adapt to various situations. As an example, a business might redesign its website every few years to keep up with design trends.

Contrariwise, graphic design is more permanent in that it can be challenging to make any changes. Furthermore, you can look at graphic design and touch it, but it won’t change when you interact with it.

Web Designers Work Closely with Developers

Web designers often work with a front-end developer who translates the design into something functional. Both the designer and developer must understand the web development process and all its intricacies.

On the contrary, graphic designers are the sole artists behind their creations. Therefore, it’s up to them to execute what they envision without playing by any hard and fast rules.

Pixel Size Considerations

Web designers must check factors like file sizes, fonts, and load times for their design to be effective. As such, they need to size down images for optimization and SEO.

In graphic design, the opposite is true. File sizes don’t play a significant role, and designers usually want the highest resolution image for print. Thus, they tend to create large file sizes.

Which Design Role Do You Need for Your Business?

Web designers and graphic designers play a crucial role in enhancing visual communication. Both are masters in visual design fundamentals. Also, they have problem-solving skills to seal any creativity gaps in your business. However, when hiring a design professional, do a background check to ensure they have a portfolio that matches their skill set.