In the past, we have discussed some of the different ways to market your brand using printing methods and digital methods.  We have applauded print for changing the world (Guttenburg and Revolutionary War blogs), and discussed ways in which you can increase brand awareness digitally.  We must admit that at times we have pitted the two mediums against one another.  This post is intended to rectify that.  Today you will read the ways in which they are similar as well as how they differ.  That is, what are the main differences in print design  compared to web design?  We know, we know.  You have trepidations because Master Printing Group has the word, “print” in it.  We promise to keep it positive.

First, let’s start by their definitions, as is custom, followed by their uses.

Print Design – Print design, a subset of graphic design, is a form of visual communication used to convey information to an audience through intentional aesthetic design printed on a tangible surface, designed to be printed on paper, as opposed to presented on a digital platform.

Print Design Uses

Graphic Design – Graphic design is the process of visual communication and problem-solving through the use of typography, photography, and illustration. The field is considered a subset of visual communication and communication design, but sometimes the term “graphic design” is used synonymously. (Source: dictionary.com)

Graphic Design Uses

  • Postcards and flyers
  • Magazine and newspaper ads
  • Posters, banners and billboards
  • Infographics
  • Brochures (print and digital)
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Signage and trade show displays
  • Email marketing templates
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Menus
  • Social media ads, banners and graphics
  • Banner and retargeting ads
  • Images for websites and blogs

In looking at the lists above, you may notice a large amount of similarities.  So how exactly do they differ?  

  • Canvas– This is self-explanatory.  In print your canvas is the medium on which you print.  Graphic designer is usually done using a specialized computer program. 

  • Dimensionality- “Print design is 2-dimensional, with much attention paid to layout. It is obviously possible for the reader to turn the page.  In contrast, Web design is simultaneously 1-dimensional and N-dimensional.  A web page is fundamentally a scrolling experience for the user as opposed to a canvas experience. A small amount of 2-dimensional layout is possible, but not to the extent of creating a preplanned experience with a fixed spatial relationship between elements.” (https://www.nngroup.com/articles/differences-between-print-design-and-web-design/)

  • Navigation- “The N-dimensional aspect of web design follows from the hypertext navigation that is the essence of the web. Moving around is what the web is all about.” “In print, navigation mainly consists of page turning: an ultra-simple user interface which is one of the printed medium’s great benefits. Because page turning is so limited, it is often not even thought of as a design element.”

  • Speed- “Print is immensely superior to the web in terms of speed, type and image quality, and the size of the visible space. These differences are not fundamental. We will eventually get:

bandwidth fast enough to download a web page as fast as one can turn the page in a newspaper

-screen resolution sharp enough to render type so crisply that reading speed from screens reaches that of paper” ((https://www.nngroup.com/articles/differences-between-print-design-and-web-design/)

  • Functionality-  “Print design is based on letting the eyes walk over the information, selectively looking at information objects and using spatial juxtaposition to make page elements enhance and explain each other.  Web design functions by letting the hands move the information (by scrolling or clicking); information relationships are expressed temporally as part of an interaction and user movement.” (www.nngroup.com)

That is quite a large amount of differences.  Additionally, the above does not include things such as color, technology, layout, design elements, and the list continues.  If you are looking for a career in design, it is important to know the differences before committing  to one path over the other.  Many designers learn both aspects of the trade in order to  become more marketable.  Knowing these similarities and differences may also help you to understand their strengths and weaknesses when choosing which form of design to use for your next marketing strategy.