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Top Differences Between Web Design and Graphic Design Publishing

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 4/17/2010

If you are a graphic designer, it may beneficial for you to learn the difference between web publishing and desktop publishing. Although most colleges teach you how to use essential design programs, there is still quite a bit you may need to learn, after the classes are over.

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    Difference Between Web Publishing and Desktop Publishing - Purpose

    Web Publishing 

    A very simple definition of web publishing is creating a website. Thus, the sole purpose behind web publishing is to code, develop and maintain internet websites and web pages. This process usually involves organizing the web pages into different directories on the server/web host as well. Modern web publishing is much more than just HTML coding. Web publishing, web developing, and website design often involves other programming languages such as PHP, JavaScript, and CSS. To manage webpages on the server side, a web publisher must also have knowledge of PHP MyAdmin, host directory structures and MySQL.

    Desktop publishing is different from web publishing in that it does not involve as much hand coding, programming languages and website knowledge. Instead, desktop publishing focuses on the art and design of projects, which will likely be used for print, publication, or other marketing purposes. Desktop publishers do not commonly code websites, although they may do some design for the web. For example, a desktop publisher may accept a project where they are assigned to create graphics for a website. From there, they will likely use a desktop publishing tool like Photoshop to design the graphics. A desktop publisher would not be responsible for uploading these graphics and integrating them with a website. They are mainly responsible for the design end of things.

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    Difference Between Web Publishing and Desktop Publishing - Job Description and Examples

    Desktop Publishing 

    A typical workday for a web publisher may involve creating a website for a client. In some cases, web publishers may not have to do a lot of back end development. Back end development is basically the coding of a website's functionality. Instead, a web publisher will likely have to do a lot of front-end development, which involves designing the part of the website that visitors see. A web publisher may be also referred to as a web developer, web designer, web coder or web programmer. The field of web development is vast. There are several different responsibilities that a web publisher may be assigned.

    A typical workday for a desktop publisher may involve creating an advertisement for a magazine. In a situation like this, a desktop publisher would be hired by a publishing company or work directly for a client. From there, they would be assigned to create a high appealing ad, focusing on marketing a product. An example of this would be creating an advertisement for Sports Illustrated, showing off a new model of Chevy Camaro.

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    Desktop Publishing + Web Publishing = Graphic Design?

    The skills required for desktop publishing and the skills required for web publishing are closely related. In a way, they are intertwined. Many of today's graphic designers may be trained for web publishing after college. Most college graphic design courses will teach students how to design, modify, and enhance images in programs like Photoshop. However, many jobs that may hire these graphic designers may request some web development knowledge as well. This is not always the case, but is common in some fields.