In a world where visuals speak volumes, design holds the power to communicate and create unforgettable experiences. Enter the dynamic duo of graphic design and digital design, closely related but with unique attributes. Today, we’re unravelling the question: Are graphic design and digital design two peas in a pod, or are they more like strawberries and cream?
So, what is Graphic Design?
First to answer our title question, we must discuss what each of these things actually are.
Graphic design can be described as visual communication, crafting meaningful compositions using a palette of colours, typography, imagery, and layout techniques. Graphic designers use these components to tell a story, and use creative skills to design things like logos, posters, and advertisements that grab our attention and make a lasting impression. In a nutshell, graphic design is all about making things look good and getting the right message across.
What is Digital Design?
Digital design is about making things look good on screens. It’s design specifically for websites, mobile apps, and any other digital platforms.
Digital designers incorporate how people use digital products into their design, in order to make the experience feel intuitive and easy to navigate.
How are they different?
The main difference is whilst graphic design can be communicated in both digital and print format, digital design is exclusive to screens.
Digital designers often leverage graphic design principles whilst also considering factors like user behaviour, interactivity and usability.
Part of the design process is thinking about how users will need to navigate the digital platform. When designing, the purpose of the site would be heavily considered – what is the website for?
For example, an ecommerce website would need to prioritise an intuitive user interface to create a seamless shopping experience for users. It would need to include prominent product displays, clear call-to-actions (CTAs), and a streamlined checkout process. A poorly designed site can be the difference between a click and a customer.
A healthcare industry on the other hand would need to prioritise information, prominently featuring essential information such as services offered, medical professionals’ profiles, appointment scheduling, and contact details. It may include features like secure patient portals for accessing medical records, appointment reminders, and educational resources.
in digital design the design elements, layout, functionality, and content strategy are all influenced by the industry’s requirements, ensuring that the website serves its intended purpose effectively.
Graphic designers still need to consider customer behaviour when designing projects too. They also need to understand the projects objectives and target audience, as well as the practicality of the design for its intended application. For instance, if designing for print, they need to consider bleed, trim, and safe zones to ensure the final product is produced accurately.
There’s thought put into which part of the page needs to be the focal point, where they want the readers eye to go, and even what order readers are supposed to read the text in.
Another significant difference between digital design and graphic design is the role of analytics. Digital designers have the advantage of leveraging data to track viewer engagement, measure performance, and gather valuable insights. They can access metrics such as viewing figures, clicks, likes, and shares, providing them with concrete data on how their designs are being interacted with and received. This data-driven approach enables digital designers to refine user experiences.
In contrast, graphic designers often face the challenge of tracking the impact of their print materials since they lack the built-in tracking features of digital platforms. It can be more difficult for graphic designers to quantify the reach and effectiveness of their designs once they leave their hands.
Digital design also offers the ability to conduct A/B testing, allowing designers to test different variations of a design and measure the impact of specific elements or ideas. This empirical approach helps refine designs based on quantifiable data, contributing to the continuous improvement of digital experiences.
Whilst both roles are very similar and utilise the same design principles, they serve unique purposes. It’s possible for a designer to do both of these roles, they are very similar.
Graphic design captures the essence of visual storytelling, utilising colours, typography, and layout to create visually appealing compositions across various mediums. On the other hand, digital design focuses on crafting immersive experiences for digital platforms, considering usability, interactivity, and user behaviour.
Many designers do share skills in both realms, but it is important to distinguish the differences in order to become a better designer.