Web design and print are the two sides of the same coin. There are many similarities between the designers of web and print materials. However, there are many differences as well that most of us don’t take into the account. Businesses believing in data-driven approach owe it to themselves to invest in both and use them where it works the best.

But even within the enterprises that appreciate the need for both web design and print, there are some important variations that they often don’t understand – ranging from terminology and tools to file formats and workflow.

While certainly not extensive, this guide offers a brief synopsis of some of the major dissimilarities between the two disciplines.

#1 How Users Approach the Design: Viewing Method


The major difference between web design and the print is how people see them. Clutching something physical in your hand like a book, a folding brochure, or a piece of paper is a much different experience than viewing something digitally. However, there is some crossover like the digital magazines, which are laid out in the exact same way as their printed copies. In general, the digital versus physical experience is pretty clear dividing the line between web design and print.

#2 How Design Engages Users’ Senses: Experience

How you experience a design is closely related to the digital and physical nature of the design. Both web design and printing share the same visual quality – no matter what the final product, the design needs to make a good impression. To this visual component, web design adds the possibility of video/audio elements and other interactive options, whereas print design experience adds a perceptible experience that may include shape, texture, and printing effects such as screen-printing, embossing, or letterpress.

#3 The Design Lifecycle and How Users Connect with it: Static vs. Dynamic


A web design can be changed, tweaked, or completely redesigned based on the requirements at any time. A+ Digital explains websites like a news website that requires frequently changing contents will look different every day. They are created to change; different pictures and text. Print design, however, once it goes into the printer, it is not going to change. This means that the web designers must consider the current functionality of the project. Components like videos, forms or polls, mouse-over effects, links, buttons, and other interactive features need to work correctly. Digital stands apart from print in a way that the dynamic quality often requires some sort of effort on the user’s part.

#4 Making the Design User-Friendly: Usability and Navigation

As print is contained to the physical shape and size of the object surface, navigation is limited to unfolding or flipping a page. When we talk about digital print, it is not so straightforward. You might encounter any number of different layouts and will end up looking for an easy way to find the content you are looking for. However, with the likes of menus, they have become the hub of website navigation.

#5 Print offers a more Uniform Experience


Websites can be accessed from a plethora of different devices with different system and application software through several different browsers, each with different plugins and versions. Therefore, when it comes to multimedia experiences, you may have to deal with poor audio devices and screens, meaning user experience with the website can vastly vary. On the other hand, what you design for print is exactly what your audience gets.

#6 CMYK and RGB Color Models

The picture on the paper is always different from what we see digitally. This is because the color on the screen and paper appears from different color models. Web design uses RGB color reproduction model while CMYK is used for the print design. RGB is based on three main colors – red, green, and blue. CMYK is based on four colors – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). Moreover, you will find it difficult to get the same color on two different monitors because each screen has its unique characteristics.

Final Words

Regardless of the approach to both types, hardly ever anyone can avoid any of them. The knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals will help you promote your brand and product through available channels.