Digital Versus Print Design: 6 Things to Consider | MP 36

Digital Versus Print Design: 6 Things to Consider | MP 36

Are you wanting to expand your marketing but not sure about the design? Do you want to learn more about the ins and outs of the design world? Not sure if you should focus on print or digital design for your advertising?

In this podcast episode, I speak about digital versus print design and the 6 things to consider.

In This Podcast


  1. Changeability and the lifestyle of digital versus print
  2. Engagement
  3. Senses
  4. Space and layout
  5. Color and resolution
  6. File formats

1. Changeability and the lifestyle of digital versus print

Digital allows you to intentionally test variations before settling on a more practical design, whereas with print you kind of have one opportunity, unless your budget allows for tons of reprints which is not always practical.

Creating designs for print is more of a static process than compared to digital, which is more changeable and dynamic. With digital print, you can make changes even after going live with your design and can continuously update it, whereas, with print, you have to have everything ready from the get-go prior to release.

Time is therefore more flexible with digital, and with print, it is more fixed where you have to have everything ready before going live and distributing your printed designs.

2. Engagement

The way viewers interact with your design is dramatically different from screen to print.

If your design is digital, it is important to make sure it is navigable, instructive, and clear. Always keep in mind how your customers may experience your digital design. Most companies and online services are digital nowadays and therefore you will be competing with many other service providers. Learning the ropes to effective design strategies will allow yours to stand out from the crowd.

Viewers arrive at digital platforms with a goal in mind, therefore it is important to properly demarcate the ‘journey’ of your website to make it easy and helpful for your viewers to follow.

With digital, you have access to statistical data that can help you understand how users interact with your website. Assessing your website through its bounce-rate and a heat-map show you for how long users remain on your website, and on how many different links they click on and interact with. These tools can be used to optimize your clients’ online interaction with you and your service.

With print, however, the most engagement your design will have with viewers is outside of your control once you distribute it, therefore it is important to get the location and function right. Is your design in a place where people will see it or pass it regularly? Is it in a permanent location or spread around sporadically? With print design, engagement is based on where and how the viewer encounters the work.

3. Senses

With print, there is a vital physical aspect in the sense that it can be touched and held by customers. However digitalized the world becomes, there will always be people who prefer books to kindles, and there will be people who enjoy physical newspapers to digital ones. Print still gives the opportunity for viewers to engage beyond the visual. Here, the texture and weight of your design come into play and should be considered.

With digital, the visual sense is important. However, what is becoming more and more common is for digital advertising to utilize music and videos, which then include another sensory factor, sound. Consider making use of video in your digital design to stand out from the crowd and draw viewers in.

4. Space and layout

Print: you have to work with a finite space such as business cards and flyers. It has set dimensions wherein you place your information and graphics. Make sure that everything is legible once printed, and that it can be printed in different sizes without losing image quality or legibility.

Digital: your space requirements become more abstract and you can work with more, but take note of layout. Make sure that your images and text remain usable and readable on different screen layouts like phones and computer screens.

Top designer tip: serif font is best for printing and sans-serif font is best for digital

5. Color and resolution

For digital, there are value systems such as PPI (pixels per inch) and RGB (red, green, and blue) to determine the image quality. When creating digital designs, designers should maintain a high enough PPI so that you have clear and high-quality images but also make sure it is small enough not to slow down the loading rate of your website, otherwise you will lose a potential viewer who does not want to wait 10 minutes for the screen to load.

In printing, there is DPI (dots per inch) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) are the measurements. DPI is determined by the quality of the printing equipment rather than the quality of the image itself.

Not every display screen is collaborated the same, so RBG and CMYK colors are shown differently on different screens, especially when you are working with subtle colors. Make sure to test out your designs on different devices to make sure that you are happy with the outcomes.

6. File formats

File formats that work for both print and web:

  • Jpeg – default file format on most digital cameras. Jpeg files can be saved in RBG for web or CMYK for print.
  • PDF – they preserve the original content and appearance of the file, regardless of where or how it is viewed.
  • EPS – most common for saving vector graphics to preserve readability, however, they are not always readable on computers.
  • PNG – high image quality that supports transparency

For print only:

  • TIFF – high image quality and large file size. Does not suppress image quality like Jpegs


  • Gifs– supports animations
  • SVG – vector format that can be scaled up or down without losing image quality

Software specific formats:

  • PSD – photoshop specific formats
  • Ai – original adobe illustrator file

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to

Thanks For Listening!

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