Big List of Differences between a Graphic Designer and a Web Designer

Poster created by graphic designer with black lettering and pencils.

For those who do not work in digital marketing and design, there is a difference between a graphic designer and a web designer. Although, it is easy to understand why they get confused. The reason you need to know the difference is so that when you solicit the work of agencies or freelancers you have a better understanding of what and who you are looking for and why. Having a small to medium-sized business often means working with external professionals and it will make this experience much easier if you have a bit of base knowledge in their field of work. To learn the differences between a graphic designer and a web designer, continue reading.

Wall feature with neon lights reading "this must be the place" created by graphic designer.


First of all, it can be helpful to consider the academic disciplines that each title falls under. Graphic design is a subject of Art and Design, with many graphic designers studying at Art Schools. Website designers, however, comes under Computer and Information Technology. The confusing part is that graphic designers will at times engage and work with technology, while web designers incorporate graphics and creative design as well.

When getting into the details, graphic design is a little bit easier to dissect than web design. This is because the main focus of graphic design is aesthetics. A graphic designer will create images by hand or drawing and printing technology. It is the aim of a graphic designer to communicate a message or to represent a concept through colour, shape, lines, shading, patterns, shadow and so on. Also, there can be a focus on the appearance of text in graphic design, more commonly known as typography. A graphic designer does not need to know how to build a website or know the intricacies of website software.

Graphic designer sketching out pencil typography spelling "create".

In comparison to graphic design, the definition web design is a little more difficult to grasp. An important thing to realise is that a website designer can wear many different hats, depending on the company they work for, and of course, the skills that they possess. One of those hats is “website developer”. A web designer is responsible for the technical, back-end aspect of projects. Web designers must be able to use code, applications and lots of different software to be able to create visual effects on web pages that are not only aesthetically pleasing but are fully functional for the user as well.  Web designers may collaborate with graphic designers to achieve the desired aesthetic. Similarly, graphic designers may collaborate with a web designer or web developer to implement their design concept into a webpage.