Differences In Designing For Web And For Print

Difference Between Web and Print Design


Most people believe that designing for print is the same thing as when designing for the internet. Professional designers know that this is not true.

There are various cases in which a person that has more experience in web design will create graphics for a campaign and the print shop will say that it cannot print as the graphics should have been done in CMYK. This is, of course, just a general way of saying that the design is not suitable for print.

There are various differences that appear between the two types of designing when referring to layout, color, media types and technology used. Let us quickly run through them so that we can have a better understanding of the situation we are faced with.

Layout Differences

We have strict rules in layouts used in both print design and web design. Our goal is always to highlight content but we do not have the same space available.

Web Design Layout:

  • Everything is measured in pixels.
  • The design has to be dynamic. This means that it needs to look appropriate on any device and any resolution.
  • General placement rules have to be respected for proper navigation.

Print Layout:

  • Everything is measured in inches or centimeters.
  • The available space is known and based on the type of media that is created (i.e. business card or poster).
  • Safety regions have to be included in order to have optimum printing results.

The web designer delivers everything to programmers while the print designer will ship everything directly to a printer.

Color Differences

rgb-cmyk

It is quite tough to work with color in both design types. What counts the most is to understand all color models that are used (CMYK, RGB and even HSV).

Print Color:

  • The colors that appear on your screen can be different on paper. It is a difference has to be taken into account at all times. This is the big problem that appears when referring to what I said in the beginning of the article with CMYK.
  • Process and Spot colors are chosen. In case you did not know, these are colors that are chosen from a pre-determined palette.

Web Color:

  • Colors seen on 2 different monitors can be different.
  • When compared to print design, contrast and brightness will affect the outcome in a different manner.
  • The color codes that are used are made out of 6 digits (hexadecimal code).

Media Type Differences

media differences

To put it simply, when you design for the web you are working on a piece that will be viewed on a device that is capable, offering a piece that is always evolving. When you design for print jobs, there is a finished product that is completely tangible.

The web designer usually works on HTML sites, banner advertising, email newsletters, flash sites, WordPress templates and so on. The print designer will work on newspaper ads, logos, business cards, posters, product designs, magazine layouts and so on.

Technology Differences

We do have a similarity here. In both fields we have to stay up-to-date with technology and we need to evolve. Both web designers and print designers will use specialized software like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or Adobe Photoshop.

The print designer needs to stay focused on the advancements made in the print industry and the web designer needs to be aware of what the programmer can do.

It has to be added that in most cases the web designer will deliver his work to a programmer and a very good collaboration between them has to exist.

The Need To Know As Much As Possible About Both Worlds

Atlantis | A Website That Resembles A Poster

In an ideal world we would have print designers working on print projects and web designers working on web projects. This is not actually the case nowadays. The work of these two types of designers is constantly getting close to a pattern. The best designers in the world can do both jobs even if there is more experience in one type based on the type of projects that were received in the past.

It is crucial as a designer to know the differences between print work and web work. A good knowledge of both can help you become an asset for any employer. Such knowledge is especially important for freelancers and that is something that I should know best.

I worked on both print jobs and web design jobs and in the beginning I had many problems because I did not know the differences between the two. I will always remember the first argument I had with a person working at a print shop that told me that my poster would end up printed with different colors. That was the day that I almost got fired. Make sure that you learn from both worlds. It will open more possibilities.

About the Author

Adrian Cruce

Adrian CruceAdrian Cruce is a passionate freelancer and marketing specialist with a fondness for learning new things, travel and music. Get in touch with him on Google Plus for anything related. He will surely answer.View all posts by Adrian Cruce →

  1. GeorgeGeorge06-05-2013

    Nice informative article and clearly defines the difference between print and design web.
    FYI, I have been on the Hottoner website and they are indeed offering high quality type of ink cartridges – also not to mention, toner cartridges. Often you will find that a lot of these other online retailers are selling low quality types of cartridges so it ain’t really worth your time and money.

  2. Nice article making things clear while designing for two different out puts i.e print and web. for me its like a learning tutorials some points which i was not taking seriously while designing. thanks for sharing.

  3. Day2Day PrintingDay2Day Printing06-12-2013

    We are glad you found this article useful.

  4. Adrian CruceAdrian Cruce08-18-2013

    Glad you liked it. I know how tough it was for me in the beginning. I struggled with this difference and it took some time to get to a clear understanding of the differences. Hopefully this article will at least help some people.

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