Graphic design and web design are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. At first glance, one would think that they mean the same thing. After all, graphic designers usually work with computers, don’t they? While I, myself, am guilty of using these terms incorrectly now and again, I always make sure to point out the differences to my students. So, here we go.
Graphic design is the process of visual communication and problem-solving using one or more of typography, photography, and illustration. This means that we use graphic design when we want to say something using our words, pictures, and photos. It is a field we can find in many aspects of our lives, though its use is most prominently present in advertising.
Graphic designers put the art before anything else, with the possible exception of the message they are trying to send. Their interaction with the viewers is a one-way street, as they have no idea how their message is going to affect the people. They also have to know how to prepare the work for print. The bottom line is that graphic designers try to broadcast a message to their audience.
Web design deals with all things connected to websites. A web designer makes sure the website in question looks appealing, is user-friendly and optimized for search engines, and so much more. They also create code and software, so they need to possess a lot of technical know-how to keep up with the demands of the market.
While graphic designers simply put their work out there and hope for the best, web designers have to predict how the audience will react and constantly test their projects before releasing them. They approach the art as engineers, looking at practicality and reception.
Speaking of practicality, web designers have to make sure the site is up, easy to load, responds in an expected way, and so on. That’s a lot of responsibility.
Why the Confusion?
There is an overly-simplified answer to this: market demand. As we move forward into the age where everything is connected to modern technology, it is much easier to find work in website design than as an artist. This is why many graphic designers turn to web design, using their talents and training in a new setting and being able to stun the viewers with simply the look of the webpage.
However, the transition process is not easy, as it requires a lot of learning. Many of my students groaned when they realized they would have to master the intricacies of PHP, among other things. Furthermore, web design is a dynamic field. It not only changes over time, it demands that you change as well.
How to Be a Web Designer?
A good web designer also needs to multitask and be practical. This is why so many web designers work in teams so that they can cover for each other and improve each other’s work.