Print Design vs Web Design: What You Need To Know

As a graphic designer, you’ll get tons of strange questions. Like, “Can you make me a dress?” Yes, this is a question I’ve been asked before. Many people who are not in the design community have no idea what a graphic designer actually does. They just assume you can make anything artistic. New designers may find themselves in a similar situation when it comes to identifying the differences between web design and print design. There are many similarities between print design and web design, but there are also many differences. The principals in design theory apply in both print and web design, but the implementation is slightly different. Let’s take a look at similarities and differences between print design and web design.

How Users Consume Print Design Compared To Web Design

The first thing you should know about print design versus web design is the way in which each type of design is viewed and consumed. Print design is viewed as a physical item. Some common forms of print designs are magazines, posters, flyers, invitations, book covers, billboard signs, graphic t-shirts and product packaging. Things that you can typically pick up and look at in a physical space are usually print design. Web design will be primarily consumed on a computer, tablet, mobile device, or something similar. Some examples of web design are the visual aspects of websites, such as buttons, banners, and ad materials. If something is viewed on a screen, it’s typically considered web design. As with other forms of design, there are always exceptions to the rules. These are just a few examples to give you an overview of the basic differences between web design and print design.


How Users Experience Print Design Compared To Web Design

The user experience is where print design and web design differ. People experience print design in the physical world. They can walk up to a poster, hold a magazine in their hands and wear a beautifully designed shirt. Some people feel that physical items are more special and intimate. They feel a certain connection to tangible things. On the opposite end of the print design experience, you have the web design experience. With web design, you can only touch things in the sense of touching a device like a smartphone or tablet. With web design, you exchange the feeling of holding something in your hands for a more immersive and interactive experience. Web design allows you to create things that people can directly engage with. Users can change the size of something or click a button to learn more about a product. Both print design and web design have their advantages and disadvantages. There really isn’t one that’s better than the other. They’re two sides of the same coin.


Creating Content For Print Design Compared To Web Design

Content creation is also a little different for print design versus web design. As a general rule of thumb, print designs are typically measured in inches or centimeters, and designs for the web are measured in pixels. A standard print design would be 300 PPI (pixels per in), and web content is 72 PPI. Print designs have a higher PPI to ensure a clean and crisp outcome after printing. Web designs focus on smaller screens and smaller files sizes. Computers, phones and tablets are continuing to improve, and can now handle higher resolution graphics, so in many cases the standard 72 PPI is irrelevant. Also, most people have access to unlimited high-speed internet, so file size is also becoming less important. The improvements in technology over the past 20 years has opened doors for new types of content and experiences in the web design space.


Beyond setting up your document for the appropriate PPI, there are a few other considerations when working on your design. In print design, your finished product is static. There’s no way to change things or make instant updates to a physical product. You need to make make sure you choose a design that conveys your message effectively without the need of extra items. Things like buttons and navigation don’t work on a physical design. In web design, you can implement interactivity, but you have no control over screen size or viewing situation. Unlike a physical product, you can’t set the lighting and controls the environment to present your design in the best way possible. This means that you need to ensure that you design is affective in a variety of situations and environments.



There are definitely differences between print and web design. Print design takes place in the physical world, and web design is a digital experience. No matter what platform you’re designing for, you should still be using the principles of good design. Following the industry standards for your design medium and listening to the needs of your client will ensure a great outcome for both print and web designers.