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Differences Between Digital And Print Design

Differences Between Digital And Print Design

Graphic design is a vital tool to execute branding and marketing strategies; whether online or offline. And, although, an expert opinion is to maintain consistency across all marketing designs to ensure successful branding, the process of executing the designs online and offline have substantial differences.

More often than not, the discussion on the differences between digital and print design revolves around which of the two works better for a brand. However, what needs to be understood is that the application of both types of design services is different; solving different purposes.

And that’s why it is imperative to understand these differences in order to make use of them appropriately for making your marketing plan a success.

So, to make it easier to understand and more comprehensive to decide your marketing approach, here are 4 significant differences between digital and print design you should know.


When we talk about the differences between digital and print design, the way users engage with the designs is of paramount consideration. While on the digital platform, your focus should be to create designs that;

     - are easy to comprehend

     - make navigation simpler for your website visitors

     - provide a clear brand message

All this is done to ensure that a visitor sticks to your website longer than your competitor’s website and find the solution that they’ve been seeking online which led them to your webpage.

differences between digital and print design

Print design, on the other hand, focuses on the environmental conditions of how your work comes across a viewer; which is dependent on location and function. Here the points to consider for engagement include;

     - Is the design you are creating will be held in hands?

     - Is it something the viewers would simply see while crossing by?

     - Is it a resource they’d keep with them for later reference?

Digital designs, also, have a slightly upper hand with respect to accumulating the data on viewer interaction; something that requires a more lengthy work to be done for print designs.

Layout and space

One of the prominent differences between digital and print design is the overall layout configuration and using the space available in the best possible manner.

And, while there are several common design elements that apply to, both, digital and print designs such as, typography, images/graphics, shapes, lines, color, etc. each approach also has its own unique layout requirements.

With print designs, you get a finite amount of space to bring your design to life. The information must be presented within the constraints of the printing surface. Additionally, print designs must meet certain standard parameters such as margins and bleeds.

Differences Between Digital And Print Design

Issues of sizing should also be considered so that everything is legible once printed.

For web designs, however, designers have almost unlimited flexibility to organize, arrange, and filter information. Not that the concept of scale and sizing doesn’t apply at all to digital designs but, it is far more abstract on the web than it is in print.

Differences Between Digital And Print Design

What we mean by this is that with digital designs the only thing you need to be wary of is the responsiveness of the design on different devices. Screen sizes and browsers differ hugely, and it cannot be guaranteed that your design will look and flow the same from device to device.

And, because various browsers may change a web designer’s original layout, achieving top functionality requires testing with different browsers and operating systems.

Dynamic Vs Static designs

This is a very commonly known difference between digital and print design.

The process of creating a print design is a static one with nearly no option to make any changes once the design is sent for printing. This makes it invariably expensive.

It is for this reason that the process of proofing a design before print should be incredibly thorough so as to avoid having to throw out an entire batch, or recall the design at the last moment.

When designing for the digital platform, however, changes can be previewed and tested at every turn. This is also a good way, and opportunity, to test out different variations before launching the final design online.

Color Scheme and Resolution

Colors are an integral part of any graphic design work, which makes the use of the color scheme for your designs extremely important. And the same applies to the resolution of visuals used in your designs.

The combination of the two makes one of the substantial and accepted differences between digital and print design.

For digital design, it is the Pixels Per Inch (or PPI) with Red, Green, Blue (or RGB) color scheme that determines image quality. In printing, Dots Per Inch (or DPI) with Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/black (or CMYK) color scheme is considered for measurements.

Differences Between Digital And Print Design

Now, as a designer, you need to ensure striking a balance between using a high enough PPI to make images clear and of high quality, but also small enough so that the image files are not so tremendous that they slow the page load speed.

DPI, on the other hand, refers to the density of pigment spacing in a printed image. What this means is how tightly the ink dots are concentrated on a print. A higher DPI printer will produce clearer, more attractive prints than a low DPI printer.

The entire situation gets really tricky when the same web design has to go for print output. You’d have to set your design settings in such a manner that the visuals do not deteriorate if enlarged on print material.     

To conclude…

When it comes to graphic design projects, it is imperative to draw a thin line between your web designs and print designs. While both are equally important and effective for the successful marketing of your brand, we cannot deny that the two have their own differences.

So, it is wise to make the right choice for the right kind of platform you are using to market your designs. GraphicsZoo can help you with both kinds of graphic design services. Simply get in touch with us at