Graphic Designers and Web Designers (or Developers) are two entirely different “animals.” Sometimes you’ll find a person or firm who can do both, but often, they do not cross fields. Usually it’s a graphic design or marketing firm that has the in-house capability to do both.

When designing for the internet, everything is digital. You don’t need to worry about color separations or dot-gain there’s no consideration for bleeds, trapping, trim-size or folds. Colors are RGB, graphics are of a low resolution, all “safe” colors can be used and you don’t need to worry about coverage or what types of paper are good for what application.

On the web, the use of color is not limited due to cost, only screen width is a mandatory dimension to consider while the font selection is limited to Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, Times New Roman and sometimes Helvetica.

Fonts: If you use a font that a computer does not have, the user’s computer will choose whatever the user’s default font option is (usually 12pt Times New Roman).

Size: Instead of the height and width of a piece of paper, you only need to worry about the width of the user’s screen. The average computer user’s monitor will be set to 800×600 pixels though some people use 1024×780 with a few using other resolutions. You’ll never know who’s using what, so use averages.

If you are designing the graphics, but someone else will be creating the code behind the site that will display your work, you’ll need to know what to provide and be able to communicate clearly with them to ensure that you don’t forget anything.

Do not think that I’m saying it’s easier to design for web than print … because it isn’t. When designing for the web there’s also the programming side, understanding how to work with tables and sliced images and knowing how to minimize the file size of your images while maximizing the visual quality and so on.

Websites combine computer programming with graphic design resulting in spectacular, interactive and functional digitally presented materials.

When dealing with print mediums, you now need to ensure high-resolution of each image, illustration and graphical element, individually as well as the resulting piece in its entirety. Understanding the difference between spot color and process color (depending on how many colors you’ll be using in your piece) is imperative.

Before you even begin to create, certain elements of the final piece MUST be known and will affect how and what you can do with your design. For example, how many colors will the piece use; what color/type of paper; what size is the paper; is the paper coated; if so, is the coating matte finish or gloss; is the piece printed on one-side or two; does it print a different number of colors on each side?; does it have more than one sheet of paper bound to make a book?; and so on. Oh, don’t forget the most fun you can have with printed mediums … page-impositions … if your piece will have multiple pages, you’ll need to understand how to impose your pages properly … the list goes on and on.

Oh, don’t forget, you’ll also need to know how to properly prepare and document your digital files so that when your printer or typehouse receives them for output to the appropriate film medium for pre-press work, your colors, sizes and registrations will be correct. A graphic designer must also understand the different color families such as PMS, Pantone and Process color … how to give the printer and/or typehouse instructions for working with their files successfully and what files need to be provided.

In the end each medium has its own set of intricacies, each requiring their own type of seasoned professional. It might be a really good idea to consider a firm that is qualified for both mediums in the end, they’ll know you better, have all your previous projects on file and will know how to convert images and artwork from web to print to further maintain your corporate identity.

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