Web Design vs Print Design: 5 Principle Differences

The web is a very different medium than print, but it’s not completely different either. Some differences with Web Design vs Print Design separate both worlds when it comes to design concepts, and other factors. But they both share some similarities in approach.

This article will discuss some differences and similarities between both web and print designs.

Web Design vs Print Design: Understanding DPI and Image Resolution

The first thing to understand about web and print design is the difference between resolution and dpi (dots per inch). Resolution refers to how many pixels makeup one inch.

5 Differences in the Principles of Web Design vs Print Design

For example, if you want to create a poster with a size of 8 x 10 inches, then you would need to use a resolution of 300 dots per inch (DPI) because each pixel represents 0.039 inches.

If you were to print this same image at 100% scale, it would take up approximately 1 square foot of paper.

On the other hand, when printing images for websites, we refer to them as being “web-ready”. This means that they can be scaled down without losing quality. To do so, we must reduce the number of pixels making up the image by reducing the resolution.

For example, if we wanted to print our poster at 50%, we would need to reduce the resolution from 300 DPI to 150 DPI. This would result in only half the amount of pixels making up the original image. However, since the image was reduced in size, it would still look exactly like the original.

Another important factor to consider when comparing web vs print designs is the type of file used to store the images. When working with web files, we typically use.jpg,.gif, or.png formats.

These types of files are known as lossless files because they don’t lose any information during the compression process.

On the other hand, when working with print files, we typically use Adobe Photoshop (.psd), Illustrator (.ai), or Corel Draw (.cdr) formats. These types of file formats are known as lossy files because they compress the data into a smaller format.

When using these different file formats, there are pros and cons associated with each. Lossless files are great for storing large amounts of data, but they cannot be compressed very well. They also tend to be larger than their lossy counterparts.

On the other hand, lossy files are great for compressing data, but they cannot hold as much information. They also tend to produce lower-quality results.

What are the Differences Between Web Design and Print Design?

There are several major differences between web and print design, but we’ll highlight the six that stand out:

1. User Experience

Web designers focus on user experience, which includes everything from usability to aesthetics. A good web designer knows what makes a site easy to navigate, intuitive to use, and visually appealing.

Print designers, however, focus more on the content itself. While a good web designer should know how to create a clean, usable interface, a print designer focuses on the message he/she wants to convey.

2. Static Design vs. Interactive Design

Designing for print vs. designing for digital media faces another factor: static and interactive projects. While print design is pretty much set once it goes to press, digital design is flexible.

You can make changes whenever you want. This flexibility allows designers to use a variety of techniques to keep things interesting.

Static Design vs. Interactive Design - Web Design vs Print Design: 5 Principle Differences
Static Design vs. Interactive Design

3. Compatibility of Web and Print Design

Print design doesn’t get affected by compatibility issues as it’s a static product once complete.

Any design for the web including sites, emails, newsletters, and other formats needs to display and operate correctly on different web browsers and with varying operating systems.

This can get complicated, especially because there are hundreds of different browser types out there, and even within those categories, there are thousands of variations.

Browser Diversity

4. The Layout of your Content

The layout of your content is another big difference between web and print design.

Because print design involves a lot of images, typography and other forms of content that are suitable for every audience, it requires a certain structure to work properly.

It’s not uncommon for designers to have to break up long paragraphs of copy into multiple pages. With Web Design vs Print Design, you’re free to place all of your content on one page and you have the flexibility to do what you want.

Web Design vs Print Design - The Layout of your Content
The Layout of your Content

5. Color

As a print designer, you might be familiar with the four-color subtractively colored CMYK mode. This mode uses combinations of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink along with black to produce a full range of colors.

But what about those designers creating web graphics? Well, there’s another way to go — one that involves adding red, green, and blue to your palette.

These colors are referred to as additive because each color consists of a mixture of different wavelengths of light.

RGB Color Circle

The most common way to represent colors in additive form is to use three numbers, such as #FF0000. Each number represents a specific amount of red, green, and/or blue light. So, #FF0000 is equal to 50% red, 25% green, and 25% blue.

If we wanted to change the percentage of red, we could simply add or subtract a certain number from it.

For example, changing the percentage of red from 50% to 75% would require increasing the number by 25%. And, if we wanted to increase the percentage of red even further, we could do so by adding more red to our mix.

What are the Similarities Between Web Design and Print Design?

1. Creativity in Fixing an Issue

In both the print and web worlds, a designer must think about what the end goal is. Whether it’s educating someone, converting them into a customer, or selling something, the designer needs to provide a solution to a problem.

Even with requests from a specific client, as difficult as the project is, your creativity comes in to fulfill demands.

For example, let’s say I’m designing a website for a small business that sells dog food. My job is to make sure my site looks good and works properly.

But I don’t want to just throw up some text and pictures on a blank canvas; I want to help people find exactly what they’re looking for. Figuring out how to organize information and present it in a way that makes sense is only half the battle.

2. Knowing your Craft

Both web and print design require a multi-level understanding of design concepts, including the use of typography and colors to create a clear hierarchy for your end product.

It may differ from traditional graphic design, but both types of design involve a lot of similar skills and the ability to convey the message in a way that everyone can understand.

The Typography Primer Book & Glossary of Typographic Terms
The Typography Primer Book & Glossary of Typographic Terms

3. Communicating the Idea

You also must be a good communicator regardless of whether you are working on a website or a print advertisement. Whether you are designing a website or a print advert, you should be able to communicate well with clients.

You should be able to get the information needed from them and convey it. You should be able to answer any questions they may have about your work. You should be able to explain why you made certain choices and how those choices fit into the overall scheme of things.

You should be able to respond objectively to any comments, or suggestions they might make.

4. Limitations and Constraints

Both print and web design have their specific requirements when it comes to layout.

They both require careful planning and execution and are often constrained by limitations like paper size and screen resolution.

Web Design vs Print Design Paper Sizes
Web Design vs Print Design Paper Sizes

But there are some key differences, too. Print projects must adhere to specific guidelines, such as margins and bleed areas, while web layouts can vary widely depending on the browser being used.

Which is Better? Web or Print Design?

Well, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

Print: If you’re trying to promote a local business, then print ads will probably be more effective.

Web: On the other hand, if you’re promoting a national brand, then the internet could be a better option.

Web design has become increasingly popular over the past few years because it allows us to reach a much wider audience than ever before. With the advent of mobile devices, websites have been adapted to allow users to access content on the go.

Print advertising is still very important, especially if you’re trying to promote an event or sell tickets.

However, most people now prefer to read online, rather than pick up a newspaper or magazine.

The internet provides a wealth of information at our fingertips, and we no longer need to rely on printed media to learn about new products, services, and events.

 web design vs print design

Guest Post by Farlyn LucasFreelance Writer and Communications Manager

Guest Post by Farlyn Lucas – Freelance Writer and Communications Manager

Farlyn Lucas works as a freelance writer and communications manager.

She has a knack for writing on various topics, especially tech, business and marketing.

When she’s not working, she enjoys playing badminton and baking chocolate chip cookies.