Print Design and Web Design: How Do They Differ?

In the mobile age, the World Wide Web continues to dominate. The things that used to be on print – news, magazine, contact information on business cards – can now be accessed online, on computers, smartphones, and tablets. This digital age provided us the convenience of accessing countless bits of information anytime, anywhere.


However, amidst the rise of digital media, traditional media still thrives, print included. When it comes to branding and identity, companies use both print design and web design for their marketing collaterals. It is essential for designers working on branding projects to know the differences between print and web design. You may be using a single application when working on both, but their technical characteristics are significantly different that they won’t work well when interchanged.


DesignMantic designed an infographic that shows the differences between print design and web design. Other than having different sets of media, print and web design also differ in the use of standard resolution, color models, typography, layout, distribution, file type and compatibility, and standard dimensions.


print vs web design



Print design is used for logos, business cards, brochures, postcards, billboards, magazines, packaging, and flyers; while web design is used for also logos, email signatures, newsletters, digital posters, web banners, ebooks, websites, social media, and mobile apps.


Standard Resolution

Measuring resolution for print and web design is also different. Print design uses DPI or dots per inch, while web design uses PPI or pixels per inch. Print design requires a standard resolution of 300 DPI or 150 DPI depending on the printer and file. Web design requires 72 PPI. The standard resolution for print design lies on the principle that the design needs to appear crisp when printed. Web design on the device, on the other hand, differs when you’re working with raster or vector graphics.


Color Models

The CMYK color model is used for print design, while the RGB color model is used for web design. Initially, design projects, whether print or web design, created through programs such as Photoshop use the RGB model. Print design should then have the tones change into CMYK before printing.


Text Legibility

When it comes to text and typography, you wouldn’t think that there needs to be a difference, since all that’s needed to consider is their legibility. In reality, people’s reading behavior differs depending on the medium. On print, it’s best to use serif fonts to guide eye tracking, especially for lengthy text on print. The web has smaller pixel grid, which doesn’t render the serif strokes effectively. Therefore, sans serif is more effective on web design. Sans serif is also suitable for web as it looks more legible on smaller screens.


Layout and Distribution

With print design, you would only need one layout that is limited to the printing surface. Web design is more complex in a way that designers need to organize and construct the layout of information depending on screen size. As for distribution, printed materials go only as far as to where they will be delivered and as to how many people will receive and read the material. Web design is easier to distribute. Upload it once and everyone with access to the internet can view it.


File Type and Compatibility

Print design projects are saved as TIFF, as it preserves high image quality. Web design is mostly saved as GIF for animations and transparency effects and SVG for scalable graphics. There are also file types that work cross-platform. These include JPG, PDF, PNG, and EPS.



As mentioned, print design’s layout is restricted to a fixed size of paper. Business cards have four sizes, with 1/3 A4 as the largest. For larger prints, the standard paper sizes range from A1 to A7. Web design dimension needs to be responsive. The layout should adapt to the screen size of computers, laptops, tablets (such as iPads), and smartphones.


Our graphic designers at MicroCreatives are capable of performing web design and print design services to cater to all types of design projects our clients may require.