Many people may not know the difference between the web (digital) design and print (graphic) design. In fact, many may not even know there is a difference, to begin with.
And although both have many things in common, there are some key differences that distinguish them from one another.
The Nature of the Design: Dynamic vs Static
Print or graphic design is static content, which means that print design isn’t going to change once it’s complete.
Contrarily, web design content is –the vast majority of the time- dynamic and interactive. This means that it can be altered or completely changed at any time after it’s finished.
This difference means that print design is meant for simple watching or reading, whereas web design is supposed to be engaging.
That’s why reading a magazine’s print edition is a whole different experience from reading it on the magazine’s website. Even if the information and news are exactly the same.
The advantage that web design has in this area is that the user can easily navigate to other articles and stories or check out stories written by the same reporter by simply clicking internal links.
How the User Views the Content: Flexibility vs One-Size-Fits-All
Someone working on print design would know the size of the final print, the type of paper, and the equipment necessary to finish the print before they even start working.
Moreover, they certain specifications and full control over how the final page would look in term of line length, the placement of images and texts, and final colors.
On the other hand, a web designer must be more flexible in their design as this design may be presented on a small screen such as that of a smartphone’s or a big screen such as that of a TV’s.
Just like the designer themselves could be executing their work from variously-sized devices such as a Macbook or a Chromebook –you can check out the best rated Chromebook compatible printers in this link.
In other words, the fluid design has to be flexible enough to adapt to the user’s screen size and resolution and maximize the amount of content on the screen at any given time.
Getting Your Message Across to the User
In terms of print design, your viewer is usually unknown and random. This is because they might come across your content on a bulletin board, a poster, or in a brochure.
This is why a print designer has to be able to grab the viewer’s attention through the limited space they have on the paper.
On the other hand, a web designer’s content is usually sought and viewed with the user’s intention to view this specific content.
So instead of working on grabbing attention, the web designer should make their content look interesting, familiar, and user-friendly.
In other words, you want to bring your user to stay on the website. This is done through easily conveying to the user what they need to do and how to easily access what they’re seeking.
The space and number of pages are more or less unlimited for the web designer.
Most importantly, if you can provide the user with all they need in one place, they’re less likely to go to your competition.
Limitations of the platform
Print designers shouldn’t concern themselves with how the user is going to consume their work as all the information is in the hands of the user anyway.
However, for a web designer, there are some considerations. The most important of which is the fact that users are going to be viewing the content from different devices, browser, and connections.
For example, big photos or videos can slow down a website and will definitely consume a lot of a user’s mobile data plan.
Like we’ve mentioned before, a print designer usually know everything about the final output before they start working on the project. This doesn’t exclude the resolution.
For example, if the project will be a high-resolution one, 1200 DPI (dots per inch) is usually used. On the other hand, 300-600 DPI is used for lower-resolution projects.
A web designer, however, must bear in mind the equipment their visitors are going to have.
Indeed, some modern high DPI displays can handle resolutions up to 300 DPI, however, most desktop displays can only handle 100 DPI.
That’s why intricately-detailed designs should be left for prints and avoided on web pages.