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Web design vs graphic design - What is the difference?

Many people think that web design and graphic design are the same, but are they? The short answer to the question is "No, web design and graphic design are not the same, but they share similarities"

In this article, we will look at what a web designer does and what a graphic designer typically does, and how these jobs are similar and yet so different.

What is a web designer?

A web designer is a person whose job is to create visual graphics on the internet. In this role, you often work with creating visuals such as illustrations, images, and designs, but instead of ending your job description there you also work with coding in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and possibly other languages.

A web designer is wearing many hats and some of the tasks that typically fall under a web designer are:

  • Creating visual content such as images and illustrations
  • Having a close relationship with clients
  • Build customer projects from idea to finished product
  • Coding in modern frontend languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

There are also other branches of web design that specialize in certain categories of the job. UI designer (User interface designer) focuses on the visuals to make it look nice and modern, and the UX designer (User experience designer) focuses on the overall customer experience. 

In case you are wondering what a UX designer is, then here is an example: You have probably seen the photo containing a big dilemma about two different types of ketchup bottles. One bottle look really good but was made in glass so the overall user experience was bad. The other side of the photo had the same bottle but turned upside down and made of plastic. By making a few adjustments the overall experience became much better even though it is the same product.

What is a graphic designer?

A graphics designer is also working with creating visual content, but instead of only focusing on content for the internet they also work with content made for print. 

A graphic designer is more focused on the visual content compared to a web designer, and some of the tasks they handle are:

  • Design logos, typography, and color palettes
  • Design websites and web applications
  • Create visual content for magazines, books, newspapers, and other publications
  • Design product packaging
  • Design visuals for advertisements
  • Design banners for events, stadiums, etc.

Graphic designers can work in many places, but you will usually see them at companies such as Advertisement agencies, Web design agencies, Marketing companies, Print, and online publishers, Freelancers, or Non-profit organizations.

How are the two jobs different?

Web design and graphic design look like each other in many ways, but some key differences are important to understand. Often companies hire graphic designers to do tasks that only a web designer could do and vice-versa.

A web designer is focusing mainly on designing for the web. They create visuals, make color palettes, do wireframes, and do other stuff related to website designs. 

A web designer also codes a website using modern frontend languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which is something that a graphic designer doesn't do.

In web design, you focus on building designs that work across platforms such as desktop, tablet, and mobile, but as a graphic designer, you focus on creating designs that would fit the specific project. A graphic designer will also be working with designs that go into print, which means everything that is being printed on paper.

Here are the main differences lined up in a list to make the differences clear:

  • Web designers do work with content for the internet
  • Web designers do work with design for cross-platforms such as desktop, tablet, and mobile
  • Web designers don't usually work with content that goes into print
  • Graphic designers don't write code
  • Graphic designers do work with design for the web and for print
  • Graphic designers do make web designs
  • Web design is dynamic
  • Graphic design is static
  • Web designers do focus on file sizes and loading times, therefore they optimize images for the web

Average monthly salary for a web designer

The average salary for a web designer working in the US in 2022 typically is between $1.600 and $9.500 per month. 

How much a web designer gets in salary depends on the experience the person has, which country they work in, and which company they work for. Education can also play a key role in the amount of salary a web designer typically gets per month, but education is not a requirement in the industry.

Average monthly salary for a graphic designer

The average salary for a graphic designer working in the US in 2022 typically is between $2.400 and $8.200 per month.

Just as with web design, the salary amount depends on the amount of experience the graphic designer has, education, which country they work in, and for which company they work. Statistics show that the average salary per month is approximately $5.100.

Which role will be more in demand in the future?

Graphic design has been an important part of publications for many years, but as the world is moving towards digitalization I would say that web design will probably be the job that is in more demand in the future.

What you can do if you are interested in working with graphic design is to master the skills that a graphic designer has, and then focus mainly on web design. You can always get a job working with graphic design or work with graphic design on the side, but I believe that you will get a more successful career if you focus on the web.


We can conclude that web design and graphic design are very similar but also very different. Web designers focus mainly on content for the web, file size, optimization, and code, and graphic designers focus on both graphic content for the web and for print.

One of the main differences was that web designers do write code and graphic designers don't. Also, graphic designers will be working on projects for publications, but web designers won't.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope that you now have an understanding of the differences between web designers and graphic designers. I would like to encourage you to please share this article with your network!

If you are interested in knowing if it's possible to become a successful self-taught web designer, then head over to this article to learn more and zoom in on how I became a web designer.


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