The Difference Between Web Design And Graphic Design.

Comparing the difference between web design and graphic design is like comparing an iPad to a painting. Both display beautiful visuals, but one is interactive and the other will get you a security escort to the door if you touch it. Graphic design has its origins in print. (webflow.com) 

Unlike web design, graphic design only concerns the creation of graphics for use on websites or in print. Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. Web design is a dynamic medium, Print is a physical medium where the user experience tends to be linear. The different areas of web design include web graphic design; interface design; authoring, including standardized code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization.

Graphic Design and Web Design may seem like they are basically the same job. However, there are a few key differences between what a Graphic Designer does and what a Web Designer does. These differences are important both for those looking to hire a designer as well as those looking to start a career as one. Let’s take a look at what each type of work entails.

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What is Graphic Design?

Graphic Design involves creating graphics, typography, and images to present an idea. Most of the time you will find Graphic Design in the print industry, but they are also found in web projects as well. Graphic Designers create digital graphics, which then are turned into brochures, posters, or whatever branding materials are required of them. Graphic Designers do not do any programming. They are responsible for making graphics which can later be used for published print work or even websites. (captainjack.com)

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

Graphic designers probably have one of the best-known job titles in the world of design and tech. But can you define what they actually do on a day-to-day basis?

Traditionally, graphic designers work more directly with print design and deliverables (things like posters, brochures, invitations, and business cards).

That said as printed media continues to transition into the digital realm the graphic design field has had to adapt, which means today’s graphic designers are often qualified to create digital assets (logos, icons, etc.) for websites and applications.

The line between graphic designer and web designer has blurred in recent years, so that graphic design often serves as an umbrella term for other design roles. Think of it like this: web designers know and use graphic design, but graphic designers may not always be web designers.

Graphic designers have a deep understanding of the fundamentals of design. This includes things like color theory and typography. They also need to know how to build brand assets (like logos) and make sure those assets are consistent across all designs for a brand.

Graphic designers do most of their work in software programs like Photoshop Illustrator , and InDesign (three Adobe products you’ll learn to use in the Skillcrush Visual Designer Blueprint ). Mac users may also use the Mac-only program Sketch as a design software alternative to Photoshop.

One skill graphic designers don’t necessarily need is coding. The coding work for digital projects typically gets assigned to a front end web developer . That said, as the fields of graphic design and web development increasingly intersect, it doesn’t hurt for graphic designers (and especially web designers more on that in second) to add HTML & CSS to their arsenal.

If you have experience with print graphic design but feel intimidated by the prospect of transitioning to digital design work, don’t be! Yes, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with some new tools and terminology, but core design skills remain the same, regardless of the medium. (skillcrush.com)

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What Is Visual Design?

Visual design was born out of a mixture of graphic design and user interface (UI) design. It focuses on the aesthetics of a website or any other type of digital design . Does the finished product look good? That is the question visual designers aim to answer.

Though they’re not quite the same thing, visual design is sometimes used interchangeably with the term visual communication. Visual communication as a term often encompasses much more than just digital design and is focused on the communication of a message visually. While visual design is specifically focused on the look and feel, visual communication is somewhat less concerned with aesthetics, in favor of the communication aspect of the discipline.

Website and web app designs fit the definition of visual design. (by Nextpage Another common area of confusion is visual design vs. general web design. Are they the same thing? Yes and no.

Some web designers could definitely be classed as visual designers. But one key area of difference lies in the fact that most web designers are expected to know at least some coding HTML and CSS at the very least. Visual design jobs do not include coding.

Visual designers are often tasked with larger design projects than web designers. Where a web designer works on designing websites, a visual designer’s brief may include creating entire visual languages for a brand or product. It goes beyond the scope of a single end product (website, app, brochure, etc.), and covers the way the entire organization approaches design projects. (toptal.com)

What does a UI designer do?

User interface (UI) designers are design professionals responsible for the “look and feel” of websites, apps, or other digital products. They perform design tasks like selecting colors, pairing typefaces, and setting web page or app menu layouts. This is all in service of creating a design experience that is both aesthetically pleasing and easily navigable for users.

UI designers work exclusively on digital projects (rather than primarily in print like a graphic designer). Because of their digital focus, they need to have a very deep understanding of user experience and web design skills. UI designers should also be proficient with HTML and CSS so they can understand how their designs will work on actual websites and apps. For that same reason, it also helps to have a basic understanding of JavaScript (or better yet be comfortable writing JavaScript code).

Like graphic designers, UI designers need a strong grasp of general design fundamentals like color theory and typography.

Also like graphic designers, UI designers spend a lot of time working with Photoshop Illustrator , and InDesign. (skillcrush.com)

Difference Between Graphic Design and Web Design

Graphic Design vs. Web Design Career.

Interestingly, despite its less stringent entry-level educational requirement of an associate’s degree, web design has a higher median income (US$62,500 per year) than graphic design, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (graphicdesigndegreehub.com)

The highest-paid 10 percent of web designers earn more than US$122,320 per year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earn less than US$36,830. (jobhero.com)

But if you start searching more specific areas of a web designer salary, you’ll see that the two are competitive: Interaction designer: $93,000 Mobile designer: $92,000 User Experience designer: $92,000. (skillcrush.com)

The Categorical Differences.

The first telling difference between graphic designers and web designers is the category that each falls under with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graphic design falls under the category of “Arts and Design.” Web design falls under the category of “Computer and Information Technology.” The categories show that graphic designers concern themselves mostly with the visual and artistic aspects of a project, while web designers concern themselves with the technical aspects of a project. This is not to say that graphic designers never use technology or that web designers rarely incorporate the graphic arts. (graphicdesigndegreehub.com)

Both disciplines use similar tools in the initial creative phases, e.g. sketching, conceptualising, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop & Sketch. Web designers often use the visuals that have been created by a graphic designer, for example a logo or banner graphics and style guide whit in user experience. Graphic designers should create logos in many different formats so they can be used across different mediums including the web. (psyborg.com.au)

The Difference Between a Web Designer and Visual Designer.

Visual designers are the problem solvers of the design world. Rather than just bringing brands to life, they play a key role in defining what goes into a brand’s unique style and voice. In addition to creating beautiful designs, they know how to explain design concepts and the decisions behind their work.

Web designers are a subset of visual designers, focused exclusively on website design work.

Visual designers do a ton of different things in their day-to-day work. It’s a bit of a hybrid between graphic designer and UI designer, but with an extra layer of skills thrown into the mix. Visual designers have to understand user experience, user interface, and web design. At the same time while they don’t have to know how to code web designers in particular get bonus points if they have at least basic coding skills.

Visual designers rarely work on print products, but they do need a strong understanding of graphic design, identity design, and branding. They need to have exceptional visual messaging and communications skills, too.

Web designers work primarily with web layouts and deliverables, including things like icons, infographics, logos, and presentations. They also have to be familiar with industry-standard software (hello again, Adobe and Sketch), plus they need wireframing skills like a UI designer.

Finally, web designers need to be aware of how front-end developers work, and the languages they use. While a web designer doesn’t need to know how to code (even if they are working exclusively in web design), they at least need to know how to communicate with those who do, and how to create designs that take into account what’s possible via coding. (skillcrush.com)

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Why This Difference is Important.

A lot of people still consider both professions as having the same type of job. So, at times people who have a web project will make the mistake of hiring a graphic designer, thinking that they will do things expected of a web designer.

In addition, when people need striking images that effectively communicate their ideas without worrying about the way the final project will appear on the web, they should choose a graphic designer, who is more artistic.

Certainly, it is just as important for people who are deciding on a career path. Each profession uses different skills, in which graphic design focuses more on artistic skills while web design stresses on programming and web knowledge though both fields can overlap a bit somewhere along the way.

Web design and graphic design use creativity to communicate.

Web design and graphic design are both visual mediums; both roles involve designing for visual communication, and they depend on the harmony between copy and visual elements to tell a story. Though their boundaries overlap, both exist as different disciplines, with different areas of expertise important to the web design process. (webflow.com)

What else separates or unites graphic and web design? We’d love to hear your additions in the comments.

On a team, designers and developers work together, with designers focusing on user experience design and planning and developers focusing on code. (skillcrush.com)

Whereas a web developer is primarily concerned with website functionality, a website designer is focused on aesthetics . Their goal is to make a website visually appealing. Website designers also focus on the usability of websites.

  • Is your site easy to navigate or does it confuse and frustrate your visitors?
  • Does your site provide the information your visitors are actually looking for?
  • Does your site instill confidence in prospective clients?
  • Is it easy for visitors to get in contact with you?
  • Does your site prompt your visitors to take some type of action and move them toward becoming a client? After all, you’re in business to serve clients and run a successful business, right?

Can a web developer and website designer be the same person or firm? Yes.

Arcadia Design is a perfect example. Web development and website design are two separate things, but we do both.


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arcadia.design is a brand design agency that specializes in creating memorable brands through beautiful & functional web & graphic design.

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About arcadia.brands

Arcadia Brands is a turnkey creative brand design agency that offers an extensive suite of branding and design services. We specialize in creating memorable brands through beautiful & functional web development & graphic design, coupled with extensive knowledge and expertise in digital marketing.

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