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Graphic Design and Web Design — What’s the Difference?

By March 1, 2018 November 28th, 2018 No Comments

If you’re someone who has a background (or even an interest) in graphic design or digital design, some of tech’s key job perks probably speak directly to you. Flexible scheduling, the opportunity to work from home or remotely anywhere in the world, starting salaries that will let you say goodbye to Cup Noodles once and for all—I bet you’re wondering where to sign up, right?

So where’s the catch? For most people, it’s in the perception that tech is all about computer programming (not necessarily a field that jumps off the page for designers). However, design is actually a HUGE part of tech! To help our creative friends understand just how right a tech career can be for them, we’ve put together this guide defining three major design fields (Graphic Design, UI Design, and Visual/Web Design) and detailing how each one pertains to tech.

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

  • Graphic designers probably have one of the best-known job titles in the world of design and tech. But can you define what they actually do on a day-to-day basis?
  • Traditionally, graphic designers work more directly with print design and deliverables (things like posters, brochures, invitations, and business cards). That said—as printed media continues to transition into the digital realm—the graphic design field has had to adapt, which means today’s graphic designer are often qualified to create digital assets (logos, icons, etc.) for websites and applications.
  • Graphic designers have a deep understanding of the fundamentals of design. This includes things like color theory and typography. They also need to know how to build brand assets (like logos) and make sure those assets are consistent across all designs for a brand.
  • Graphic designers do most of their work in software programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign (3 Adobe products you’ll learn to use in the Skillcrush Visual Designer Blueprint). Mac users may also use the Mac-only program Sketch as a design software alternative to Photoshop.
  • One skill graphic designers don’t necessarily need is coding. The coding work for digital projects typically assigned to a front end web developer.

What does a visual designer do?


First Up, The Difference Between a Web Designer and Visual Designer

Visual designers are the problem solvers of the design world. Rather than just bringing brands to life, they play a key role in defining what goes into a brand’s unique style and voice. In addition to creating beautiful designs, they know how to explain design concepts and the decisions behind their work.

Web designers are a subset of visual designers, focused exclusively on website design work.

  • Visual designers do a ton of different things in their day-to-day work. It’s a bit of a hybrid between graphic designer and UI designer, but with an extra layer of skills thrown into the mix. Visual designers have to understand user experience, user interface, and web design. At the same time—while they don’t have to know how to code—web designers in particular get bonus points if they have at least basic coding skills.
  • Visual designers rarely work on print products, but they do need a strong understanding of graphic design, identity design, and branding. They need to have exceptional visual messaging and communications skills, too.
  • Web designers work primarily with web layouts and deliverables, including things like icons, infographics
  • , logos, and presentations. They also have to be familiar with industry-standard software (hello again, Adobe and Sketch), plus they need wireframing skills like a UI designer.

Finally, web designers need to be aware of how front-end developers work, and the languages they use. While a web designer doesn’t need to know how to code (even if they are working exclusively in web design), they at least need to know how to communicate with those who do, and how to create designs that take into account what’s possible via coding.

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