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Everything that separates the two and all you need to know about it

We live in a world that’s enveloped in design. From the billboards you see on the street to the magazine you pick on your way to work, from the sign boards you follow to the smartphone you stare at; it is all now a part of a universe that’s deliberately designed to make you feel or act a certain way. All of them compete for your attention, but only a few of them manage retention.

But design has become commonplace when it comes to online media. From every social platform to websites and digital advertising – we are always surrounded by the best of designs, competing for our attention.

The curiosity to know these differences that brought you here also informs you about where you belong – and that’s half the battle won when it comes to marketing. There are key principles that define your creative endeavours and determine how well equipped you’d be when it comes to designing for print or online mediums.

While both the mediums involve high levels of conceptualisation, visualisation and an eye for form & function, the workflow and design-thinking behind these projects are highly variable.


The most important (and kind of obvious) point being the use of various value systems for colour and resolution. For digital designs, PPI (pixel per inch) and RGB determine the quality of the image. While in printing, DPI and CMYK are the key measurements of the design.

RGB refers to the primary colours of light, Red, Green and Blue, that are used in monitors, television screens, digital cameras and scanners. CMYK refers to the primary colours of pigment: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black.These are the inks used on the press in ‘4-color process printing’, commonly referred to as ‘full colour printing’ or ‘four colour printing’.

But why exactly do we prefer to use CMYK for all our printing purposes? It all comes down to an explanation of the colours themselves. While CMY will cover most lighter colour ranges quite easily, compared to using RGB, CMY by itself can’t create very deep dark colours like ‘true black’. Hence, black (designated ‘K’ for ‘key colour’) is added. This gives CMY a much wider range of colours compared to just RGB.


If you have basic knowledge about newspapers, photographs, or any collateral for that matter – they don’t move (unless you’re from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter), they don’t speak to you, and you can’t click your way through the world wide web. Designing for print is a static process – pretty much a one-way convo! But the good news is, we’ve got online and digital mediums that are as interactive as humans (but still robots, right?).


Yup, the workflow and the lifecycle of conception are unique to both. One, you can’t make last-minute changes or delete a creative/design after it’s been published. You just can’t not love that fact. Two, you can update the already published design even at its 1000th like or view and it will never get outdated, unlike print – it only goes in the bin after sometime (Which you must never! Let’s save paper, let’s reuse and recycle.)

Three, print media is time-consuming to process and maintain, it’s expensive and it only captures a limited crowd at a time. Thank goodness for evolution, WWW, and seamless connectivity!

However, despite the enormous growth of digital design in the last decade, print design holds an important role that we just can’t do without. From packaging, signages, books (you can’t smell the sweet-smelling pages digitally!), flyers, tickets - the list of everyday items that print designers create is endless.

Now that you know a lot more about the differences between designing for print and digital, what would you rather choose? Ok. No pressure. Take your time. But whatever it maybe, make sure you enjoy it to the fullest!

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