Deciding who should assume responsibility for your design work is daunting for any business. It isn’t a choice to make lightly, considering how crucial design is for the growth, awareness, and overall success of your brand.
In such a situation, you might be led into thinking that any designer will do your job equally well. However, when it comes to concepts like web design and graphic design, you want to know what makes each field distinct. You won’t find your perfect match without knowing who best fits the task.
So let’s make it easy—here’s everything you need to know about web design vs graphic design.
Graphic design is the process of interpreting and delivering a message visually. This is typically done to create or refresh a company’s image. They will offer their original ideas, knowledge of emerging trends, and new solutions to business problems.
The visuals will be communicated to consumers with symbols, words, imagery, or all three. What is produced must be aesthetically pleasing and thought-provoking to fully engage the intended audience. Here are some examples of what they could help you with.
- Creating typography
- Designing for print
- Aiding in the development of a brand’s identity
- Packaging design
- Producing templates for assets such as a logo or color palette
Let’s look at packaging from Trident, where the graphic designer created something cool. The bold lips stand out, the eye is immediately drawn to the company’s name, and the words “Xtra Care” and “Sugar Free” tell the customer exactly what they’re getting.
But it goes beyond that because the imagery also sends a message. The simple design, white teeth, and minimal use of text could subconsciously make the consumer think about cleanliness, which the brand promises to deliver with its product.
Web design is the practice of arranging, planning, and creating content. While generally done for a website, it can also include web apps, user interfaces, and mobile apps. Instead of just looking at aesthetics, this role focuses on functionality and usability to reach the client’s goal. This is where the two career paths vary the most.
To sum up, while the visuals are key, so is the overall user experience. A breathtaking website is only worthwhile if the user can navigate it. Below are some of the important choices a web designer will have to make throughout the design process.
- Will videos play automatically, or do they need to be clicked?
- How interactive will a webpage be?
- Can the loading time be improved?
- What fonts will be accessible and user-friendly?
- Will the digital design look good from a mobile and web browser?
Take this, for example. Simply Chocolate has an extremely eye-catching homepage on their website. A graphic designer could’ve been responsible for the visual elements, but they wouldn’t be the ones making them practical for use. That’s the web designer’s task.
They would’ve decided that the navigation points should be on their side because users will take more time to read them, and this focused attention will make them more likely to click. Also, the crucial call to action, “scroll to shop”, is noticeable and away from other text.
Scope and responsibilities
With new design trends and technologies developing as we speak, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what a graphic designer and a web designer are expected to accomplish. However, we’ve narrowed down some of the requirements that have stood the test of time.
Here are some of the most common responsibilities for today’s graphic designer.
- Creating visual designs. This often involves taking photographs themselves for the perfect imagery, finding inspiration across the internet, and understanding everything about the brand to ensure the right message is getting across.
- In-depth research. There’s a lot out there to know about. A graphic designer would be expected to stay on the ball when it comes to innovations like the emerging role of AI. Their eyes also need to be watching industry trends, color theory, design software, and the brand’s top competitors.
- File preparation. Graphic designers do more behind the scenes than you might think. They have to ensure their work is formatted for either online or print distribution. This includes appropriate file size and suitable resolution for images.
- Company-wide communication. Often businesses will have a diverse team. Graphic designers may be expected to keep in contact with marketing teams, copywriters, and art directors to help everyone stay on the same page.
- Photo editing. From changing the color to altering backgrounds and improving quality, editing a photo is a key part of making a unique and successful design.
There are also chores every web designer must endure. Let’s take a look at the traditional duties they are most likely to undertake.
- Responsive and interactive designing. It’s important to create for different screen sizes and devices. This is crucial with constantly diversifying technology.
- Company-wide communication. If the company has an existing creative team, engaged client, or web developer, the web designer may communicate with them for briefs, feedback, deadlines, and clarity on the site’s goals.
- Wireframing and prototyping. Wireframing makes it easier for other people to visualize the website, helping it get approved by stakeholders and higher-ups. A prototype allows the creator to check the website’s functionality, ask both the team and the user for suggestions, and make adjustments when necessary.
- Quality checking. The website is supposed to make sense for the user. If elements don’t work when you click them, or there are typos in the text, it isn’t going to create a magical experience for the consumer. A web designer will be expected to periodically scrutinize things like responsiveness, outgoing links, and factual accuracy. They’ll also offer their opinion of when a complete revamp might be the next step forward.
- Studying analytics. There are platforms like Google Analytics that give insights into new sessions, bounce rates, conversions, and engagement. Someone in this role may be expected to check them during new projects, designs, and campaigns.
When you set a task, you have certain expectations for the outcome. For example, you want it to be delivered on time, of high quality, and a perfect translation of your guidelines and requirements. It can be disappointing when the result doesn’t match your vision.
This is why it’s so crucial to find the right expertise for your business’s specific needs. When you understand which role is better suited to which digital project, you’ll find operations run seamlessly, communication improves, and confident creativity blossoms.
It’s important to remember that these kinds of roles are never one-size-fits-all. Creative people never fit into boxes! You may have a graphic designer with web development skills or a web designer who’s a whizz with Adobe applications.
For all their differences, there are areas of overlap you should know about too. For example, problem-solving, the fundamentals of digital marketing, and communication skills are often expected from both web designers and graphic designers.
The average salaries
These design jobs aren’t the same, we’ve established that. But one more area they often differ is how much they get paid. Granted, this will depend on factors like experience, company, and location, but we can get a pretty clear idea. Before you start hiring, you need to know what your future employee expects from you so you can budget effectively.
With everything you’ve learned in mind, you’d like to think graphic designers are well compensated for their efforts. Let’s find out, shall we?
According to GlassDoor, the average annual salary for this role in the US is $44,060. This conclusion was drawn using the data of around 40,000 employees in the same specialism.
It makes sense that a web designer may have a slightly higher salary, considering the current demand for skill sets in technology.
GlassDoor was also able to enlighten us about the average annual US salary here, which was an estimated $61,729. This was calculated using both user data and a clever proprietary model.
Ready to get creative?
You may be able to find someone who is trained as a web designer and a graphic designer. These types of talent don’t always fall from the sky, so don’t hire one person and expect them to juggle both positions. Chances are they’re going to get overwhelmed.
For the ultimate seamless experience, hire two expert individuals and encourage collaboration. Let’s say your graphic designer created some amazing content, be it adaptable imagery or a stunning color palette, for your business. They could then send those over to your web designer, who would translate them onto your websites and apps.