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graphic design for print and for the web – the major differences

theprintgroup web vs print

Design for print and the internet share a common goal – to engage an audience. However, there are many differences between print design and web design that must be considered to achieve this goal. We'll cover some of the major differences you need to be aware of when preparing art for print or for a website.

design and layout

When preparing art for print design, your layout options are limited only by your imagination. Designs can be complex, minimal, packed full of images and colours, or consist only of text. It's important to consider your audience, and also what printing methods you'll be using when planning a layout for print design.

Designing a website layout presents a different set of challenges. Navigation should be obvious and easy for the user to find and use. People on the internet are notoriously impatient, so the most important information should be displayed first. And of course you need to ensure that your website will look good on a variety of devices that use a vast range of screen sizes.


One of the most common issues designers face when crossing over from web design to print design (and vice-versa) is maintaining consistent colours. When designing for print you need to use CMYK colour, while web design needs to be done in RGB colour. It's important to remember that CMYK printing gives a lot smaller colour range than RGB – so colours that you can see on your monitor might not be achievable in print. To make sure you maintain consistency across print and web, it's best to start with CMYK colours, and convert to RGB when necessary.

image quality and file size

When designing for the web it's important to ensure images are small in file size so that they load quickly. Compressed jpg files or colour restricted gif files enable you to keep file sizes small so that your web pages will load super-fast. However, when designing for print it is much more important to have high-quality images that look amazing. So forget about image compression and opt instead for tiff files, uncompressed jpg files or high-res pdfs, and make sure all images have a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). These may make your files larger but your print jobs will look fantastic.