Web Design vs. Graphic Design

webDesignVSgraphicDesignCreative MediaWorks is a full-service graphics and multimedia provider. We provide concise digital design and expert programming services. However, as an agency partner, we need to be flexible in the way we work. Our clients’ requests range from ground up design and programming to just programming and implementation. We have clients who prefer to use their graphics departments for the design phase of their web projects. Why not? Their designers are most familiar with their creative standards and guidelines. We’re happy to work this way. But it’s important to understand the differences between digital and graphic design. If you’re a graphic designer who spans both print and digital mediums, here are some things to keep in mind.


We get a ton of requests to “repurpose” print pieces like visaids or promotional brochures into websites. But repurposing requires more than just converting print artwork into digital assets. The goals of print and web are different. Print pieces are designed to inform your audience, while websites are meant to engage them with your content through interactivity. So in most cases, new artwork and new content have to be provided to achieve the different goals of each medium.


Print is finite. The designer can’t go beyond the confines of the printed piece. In contrast, websites are viewed on multiple devices with many different screen sizes. In fact, it’s one of the largest challenges of web design today. A professional web designer needs to be familiar with all delivery methods when designing the creative assets for any project. Oftentimes, they will have to develop multiple versions of each screen with different column layouts and image sizes to accommodate multiple mobile devices. This is called responsive web design. It is built on CSS and HTML programming concepts and requires a programming background. If you are a graphic designer who is working on web assets, it would be smart to collaborate with your developer to determine how many creative assets you might need for each web page you are developing.


When it comes to space, that’s where print designers are obviously confined to the space of the print piece. This means content may have to be streamlined and some graphics may have to be deleted from the original design plan to fit within the allotted layout. Web designers aren’t forced to work within these confinements. Content can move, link, pop-up or scroll allowing for limitless space. Of course, there is extensive planning involved. Most web designers will develop a storyboard prior to the layout that outlines every link, pop up, or scroll. Everything needs to be planned prior to programming to avoid last minute additional programming hours and missed deadlines.

 Color and Images

When it comes to color, print designers work in CMYK which is specific to print. For those who are unfamiliar, this is a four-color process made up of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). Web designers work in RGB. This is a process specific to electronic media in which Red, Green, and Blue light are added together to produce different colors. Image resolution is also different for each medium. In print, your images need to be least 300 dpi so they don’t print blurry or pixelated. In digital design, images don’t need to be any higher than 72 dpi to ensure that they fit within all screen sizes and don’t take too long to load.


Web designers are more limited when it comes to font selection. Sticking with fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana, which open in all web browsers, ensures that your content can be viewed by a broader audience. Readability also becomes a concern, as it can be difficult to view more complex fonts on different screen sizes (especially smartphones). Typography is important to the attractiveness of any print piece. If you want to learn more about font selection for print pieces, click here to read our most recent blog entry.

 Closing Thoughts

As the advertising industry continues to gravitate toward digital, graphic designers are being asked more and more to bridge both mediums. If you are a graphic designer who wants to increase your digital capabilities, there are a few things you can do, including learning some basic html to give you a frame of reference for web design. However, true web design, requires programming experience and expertise which can take years to develop. For complex websites or mobile apps, it is best to use a true web designer.

 Creative MediaWorks has over a decade of experience bringing creative multimedia solutions to our healthcare and medical communication clients. Call us to discuss your next web project. Speak with our Multimedia Manager or email us at info@creativemediaworks.com.

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