There are various questions any design novice should seek answers to. One of the major issues here is whether the three types of design projects mean the same thing. So, what makes the difference between graphic, web design and web development? Or is it that they require different approaches? Which of the three must you opt for, and which one offers more job openings to freelance designers?
This post delves deeper into the topic to unravel the mystery regarding these questions. To begin with, let’s define the roles for each before discussing the similarities and the dissimilarities between these design terms. This post also offers suggestions to help you choose the right career path you need to pursue and be a fresher in the web design industry.
Graphic Design: What Is It?
In essence, graphic designers are tasked with generating graphics, merging typography with images and illustrations to relay information. Typically, graphic designers dealt more with print and logo designs, including brochures, posters, book and magazine layout, and packaging. However, things have changed dramatically; design and technology have changed, and graphic designers strive to create more digital products for the email and web.
Graphic designers are highly knowledgeable when it comes to design fundamentals. Grasping design basics such as color theory, typography, layout, and visual hierarchy is critically important. Their software to accomplish their task includes Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.
Consider visual design as a canopy, where web design and graphic designs are subcategories in design.
Web Design: What Is It?
On its part, web design involves designing the pictorial appearance and impression of a website. Web designers pay close attention to the planning of the websites’ user experience, wireframe layouts, and content and image organization in such a manner that they relay information, and ultimately, design the UI.
To qualify as a web designer, you must also understand the same design essentials as graphic designers. You must know how to apply color, typography, layout, and hierarchy when designing websites’ UI.
The Web design & development concept has been there since the website’s inception. According to history, the concept had a much simpler description following the much simpler web development process.
Web Design & Development: What Does It Entail?
It is a collective word that defines the website creation process. Going by its name, this process entails two key skill sets – web design and development. While a web design defines the website’s appearance and feel, web development defines the functions. Since there is no big gap between both roles, the titles are usually applied interchangeably. The more the web evolves, the more evolved the roles become.
Design versus Frontend versus Backend Development
In simple terms, let’s categorize website development into two groups: what you see and what you don’t see.
While some designers apply code, other frontend creators design. Similarly, some don’t use coding, while others embrace coding alone.
- What you don’t see happens on the server and entails backend development. The backend allows a website to keep and arrange all the information coming through the frontend. Thus, if you make a purchase or fill out forms, the details are relayed into an app within the website’s frontend. The information is stored within a database contained on the server.
A website functions how you wish it to since the back and front ends regularly communicate. Like a bus conductor, and so is a backend web developer. Both of them ensure databases, apps, and servers collaborate peacefully via languages such as .NET, PHP, Ruby, and Python in conjunction with structures like Code Igniter and Ruby on Rails.
How Does Graphic Design Differ From Web Design?
Having understood what graphic and web designs entail in their respects, what are the main differences? There we go:
The two types of designer groups vary greatly in their technical skills. Web design experts should familiarise themselves with CSS, HTML and how best to create a functional design on the web. You can personalize the design without excessive restrictions with normal graphic design work. Yet, you must think through technical issues such as files’ size and load time during the web design work.
While graphic design is everlasting, web design remains dynamic
In most cases, graphic design maintains its initial state forever. Once you have designed a poster or book cover and printed it, there is no way you can adjust it. But for web design, which is dynamic, things are different. It is flexible and subject to change and adaptability. After some time, a business or company might want to redesign its website. Designs are constantly evolving, and the company or business must stay updated.
While web design is sharable, the graphic design remains fixed
As for the web design, a user can interrelate with the design. It only requires one to click or press a button, explore different web pages; there can even be videos and motion graphics on the webpage. A graphic design isn’t highly interactive. You might stare at it, feel it, yet, no changes occur when you relate to it.
Pixel and DPI Dimensions
Web designers concern themselves most with technical restraints, such as files’ size and load time. In this case, there is a need to resize the images.
The file size is less important in graphic design. Typically, you need maximum resolution images or photos for printing, which generates big file sizes. Similar files are applied on the web, and the printed layout varies considerably in size. This is attributed to the dots per inch (DPI) and pixel dimensions. In contrast, web images are stored in 72 DPI, whereas 300 are reserved for printed photos. This explains why when you print out an image online, it comes out blurred, pixelated, and smaller on the print paper. The printed photo or image calls for more pixels than what a computer, phone, or tablet screen requires for a better image display.
Although web design has improved, typography remains a bit constrained. Once you create a webpage, it is required that you specify a font within the CSS. Yet, in case the browser of the user fails to support it, then the design will default to a primary font replacement. Therefore, it is appropriate to identify a font stack to allow multiple font options for the browser. A specific font-family value with several font names disjointed by commas is included in this scenario.
But when working on a graphic design, provided you have installed a genuine font on the PC, you can apply any typeface based on your preference. That is precisely how the results will appear during the exportation and printing of the design. Ensure purchasing the right certificate for your fonts. In most cases, fonts are delivered in TTF and OTF file formats.
Important point: You will need to outline the text once your graphic or logo design task is done. Note that an outlined text is not editable once it has been turned into a shape. It helps protect your design so that it doesn’t shift whenever another designer or printer opens it on a different machine without the font. You guarantee that the design maintains its original status by delineating and saving the design in the best-quality PDF doc format.
Web design calls for an enduring relationship
Websites are constantly maintained; they can never be finished! Considering that the web is naturally dynamic, you can include changes whenever you feel like it. And as a web developer or designer, a client may require engaging you as a retainer or, for other reasons, to assist with continuing design updates.
On the contrary, as a graphic designer, immediately you print your work, and that is all. In case of any changes, it will mean going for the latest version. For instance, may you have been contracted to create a direct mail design to be distributed within a few days or months? Also, republishing and sending graphic designs is costly. If there is an error in your direct mail design, your client will need to reproduce and meet the new postage costs.
The two designs call for different skills
Being a web designer working as a freelancer, you have the option of including web development services to your skill by learning to create custom websites using tools such as Webflow. Except, if your clients want you to apply the current CMS, you will need to collaborate with a web development expert to revitalize the UI design mock-ups. And for the graphic design work, you will need to team up with your production sculptor to help you clean up and prepare your files or docs for the ultimate print work.
If you contemplate joining the design industry and hoping to make it an enduring effective career, it is critical that you also figure out how you wish to focus. So, which way should you go? As it were, you should be ready to understand the necessary design principles of a graphic designer and then take the web design course. The world is more digitally inclined, and to safeguard your future career, you must acquire appropriate skills. You can deal with graphic design while emphasizing web design; it will enable you to build a fruitful career for your future.