Print vs. Web Design

Have you ever thought what are the key differences between print and web design is? Maybe you thought they were fairly similar. That print design is presented as a hard copy and can be physically held, whilst web design is viewed on a screen. This is true, however there are a few important differences between the two that people in industry often don’t know, including workflow and file formats and terminology.

How does your design engage the users senses?

Print and web design share a visual quality in common.

Static vs. Interactive

Print design is static, because after it has gone to print it can not change, unless you update it and reprint it again. This costs time and money and is not ideal. However, web design is interactive and can be changed and updated regularly without spending too much money. Therefore, web designers must consider the continuing functionality of the website.

Are you able to navigate through the design?

Navigating through a print design is fairy easy as you usually flip or unfold a page. In comparison the web is not so straight forward. There are many different layouts, that are not necessarily viewed in chronological order, like a book. A menu widget is often helpful in allowing the user access what they are looking for efficiently.

What is a responsive design?

With the amount of new gadgets being released it is important that our web design adapts to the different screen sizes and how it changes when the user interacts with it (e.g. zoom in and out). We must consider how we need to change the design to function best for each device as well as ensure the aesthetics are read clearly.



Resolution is really important to understand in print and web design, as it determines the image and graphic quality within the design.

Have you ever heard the term ‘DPI’ (dots per inch) or ‘PPI’ (pixels per inch)? Some people get them confused and think they are interchangeable, however this is not the case.

DPI is implemented within the printing process. It is the density of the dots of ink printed every inch on the surface. It has nothing to do with the dimensions of a printed design like PPI does. Furthermore DPI has nothing to do with web design, as it is specifically for printing purposes.

PPI is the number of pixels displayed in an inch of screen space. If you want a higher quality image it is important that you use a high number of pixels.

When creating websites the standard resolution is 72 PPI, in comparison to print which is 300 PPI (Please note that most designers refer to this as 300 DPI).

What colour do I use for print and web/screen design?

The colour for print and web design is the same right? Actually, the colour display is different. CMYK is used for Print, whilst RGB is used for the screen based designs. It is important that the designer ensures that the colours remain consistent within their designs. How do I achieve that? You may ask. The Pantone Matching System, provides you with a reference number for each Pantone colour. This is different to the colour codes used within CMYK and RGB.


There you have it, some of the main differences between Print and Web design that you must take into consideration when designing.


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