Graphic Design is the foundation for great Web Design

Graphic design has been a thriving discipline since long before the arrival of the internet but by evolving in tandem with the rest of the design world, it remains an important and relevant field of design today. Graphic design is a multifaceted skill set with many mediums and specialisations including the relatively recent emergence of web design. Graphic design can exist without web design, but there is no web design without graphic design. Let’s unpack the differences between web design and graphic design which should provide some clarity for those navigating the intersection of these creative fields.

Web Design V. Graphic Design

What exactly is web design?

Web design is greater than the sum of its parts and should not be reduced to mere aesthetics. It involves UI and UX design and needs to encompass all aspects of the function of a website. Web designers are indeed responsible for the look of a website and will spend much time designing colour palettes and text but they also focus on the accessibility and ease of use of a website. A user needs to easily navigate a site and should want to spend time browsing. With countless websites popping up every day, users will not spend time on a site that is not intuitive or pleasant to visit.

What exactly is graphic design?

Graphic design is a much broader field that involves numerous disciplines and mediums. In its essence, it is about communicating a message or telling a story as a visual medium. Graphic design includes imagery, typography, copy and everything in between. It is applied to branding, logo design, print, digital and motion graphics. Graphic design is basically anything you see in the digital or physical world of communications. 

The key difference is that web design is primarily digital and involves the design of interactive elements that web users can engage with. Graphic design covers many mediums and is essentially visual, as opposed to interactive or functional. Web design is motivated by how it will be used but graphic design is about how a design will be perceived. Think website versus poster design or UX versus a book cover for example.

Tools, software and skills

A web designer will rely on digital tools and software like Adobe XD, Sketch, and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The software a graphic designer uses is generally Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, with a focus on creating static visuals.

While it is always helpful for a designer to learn as many tools as possible in order to remain current and to explore new avenues, a graphic designer need not depend on the same skills as a web designer.

Web Designers depend on a knowledge of coding, of web development principles, and SEO optimisation strategies. Graphic Design on the other hand, focuses more on artistic skills, creativity, and an understanding of typography, colour theory, and print design techniques.

Graphic design as a foundation

Before embarking on a journey into web design, it is strongly advised that you first get to grips with the fundamentals of graphic design. Having an understanding of visual communications will arm you with the tools to build on elements like colour theory, typography and layout design, all vital when creating visually appealing and effective web design.

By mastering the art of telling a story using visual mediums, a web designer will have gained an insight into the craft of delivering a message like a graphic designer which they can then translate to digital design. Starting with graphic design gives you a broad skill set that can broaden a designer's perspective and allow more creative freedom. By starting with graphic design, a web designer will have a well-rounded skill set, making them a more adaptable and effective designer in the digital world.

Overall, web design is a more specific set of skills and while graphic designers often move into the field of web design, there are some skills that will need to be first honed and indeed prioritised. Understanding the distinction is the first step for a graphic designer interested in specialising in web design but both paths can also offer a world of opportunity and creative fulfilment.

Embark on a creative journey with our Graphic Design courses

Have a look at our graphic design courses and learn more about the art of visual communication. Our program is tailored for aspiring designers and creatives and it is precisely crafted to lay a solid foundation in visual communication. Explore the fundamentals of graphic design including colour theory, typography, layout design, and so much more. Equip yourself with the skills needed to create attractive digital and print media. Our tutors are successful professionals who provide hands-on training and insights into state of the art trends and methodologies. Whether you want to start a career in web design, graphic design or refine your artistic skills, our courses provide the ideal balance of theory and practice.

Are you ready to make a mark in the ever-evolving world of digital and graphic design? Enrol now and transform your passion for design into a dynamic career.

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Written by: Fiona Byrne

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