Why Graphic Designers Should Also Be UX Designers


Graphic design focuses on making things visually beautiful, while UX design focuses on the experience of the design and how functional everything is for the user. Combining both types of design results in aesthetically pleasing designs that are high functioning.

The world changes rapidly in the modern age, and social media has a lot to do with how immediate people expect things to be. Trends show that more and more companies are offering things immediately, including healthcare video appointments 24/7 and chatbots that talk to customers on social media sites. Here are six reasons you should add UX design to your repertoire.

1. Increase Your Income

UX designers make more on average than non-UX designers. In the United States, a graphic designer's average salary is $41,000 and a UX designer's average salary is $74,000. Adding UX design to your abilities increases your income by more than $20,000 per year.

If you work for a company, then understanding user experience may put you up for promotions and raises you wouldn't receive without that knowledge. If you own your own design company, you'll be able to bring in clients specifically looking to up their game and increase the user-friendliness of their sites.

2. Decode Artificial Intelligence (AI)

More and more sites are integrating artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented reality (AR) to create an overall exciting experience for users. However, the technology is still new, so there are bound to be glitches along the way. A UX designer will naturally focus more on the way AI integrates with the site as a whole and how the user is able to navigate various features. What isn't working, and how can it be fixed?

3. Understand Type

Typefaces are super easy to find in the 21st century. There are around 60,000 font families, so designers can choose from any of those or create a font of their own. However, knowing there are plenty of fonts isn't enough. You need to understand the emotional impact different fonts have and the story they tell the viewer. There is a long history of choosing fonts, cutting out elements to lay out on a page and coming up with a design that has elements that all work together.

Even though the process is all computerized today, the same concepts of allowing white space for the eye and using the right combination of images and letters to create an overall story apply. To fully understand what font to use where, you must first understand the background of various fonts and typestyles. Once you know the history and where those styles were used in the past, it's easier to figure out how they fit in today's world.

4. Shift Your Focus

Designers tend to have an eye for detail and want everything to line up perfectly and every pixel of an image to be 100 percent in line. However, UX designers focus more on the overall experience and how everything functions. Learning to shift your focus from general design to UX design may be challenging at first, but can also be a nice break from the perfectionistic tendencies you may have developed from years of graphic design work.

It isn't that you shouldn't present a beautiful and well-designed product to your users, but your focus is less on finding the perfect shade of red and more on how the color you did choose affects your site's visitors. You may conduct some split testing to see which shade they relate best to. You'll do a lot more usability testing as a UX designer.

5. Force Yourself to Be Mobile Responsive

More and more people are using their smartphones to access the Internet. Mobile Internet traffic is now 51.2 percent of all online traffic. As a designer, you're likely aware that more people are accessing the website via mobile devices, but as a UX designer, you'll test how the site looks on those devices. Issues such as loading times become more important as a part of the overall design.

So, if you have the choice to use a big, expansive file of a beautiful image or reduce the file size and slightly sacrifice quality, as a UX designer, you choose the reduced file size that loads fast on the user's screen.

6. Hone Your Problem Solving Skills

Some experts feel that UX design is more about identifying and solving a problem than the design itself. The process of UX design begins with studying the user and seeing what is and isn't working for them. You then design a solution to that problem and build the website or make changes that solve the problem for the user.

An example of this might be an eCommerce site where users are abandoning the shopping cart before entering the details. The UX designer will study the exact point of abandonment. Is it when they're asked to share a phone number, for example? The use of heat maps helps show the place the user is before exiting the site.

Next, the UX designer might poll some of the customers who have abandoned carts and try to identify if it was the request for a phone number that prompted them to leave. Once you recognize the problem, the solution is merely a matter of testing different options, such as removing the phone number field.

7. Resources on UX Design

If you want to expand into UX design, there are many free courses or paid classes online or via a local community college.

  • Udemy – There are a wide range of both general and very specific topics in UX design at Udemy. Prices vary, but courses start at only $9.99 each. Some of the courses include "User Experience Fundamentals" and "Mobile App Design in Sketch 3: UX and UI Design from Scratch."
  • Gymnasium – This site offers a 100 percent free course called “UX Fundamentals.” Lessons includes how to identify users, using wireframes and prototypes and analyzing users.
  • Open2Study - Open2Study is a project of the Open Universities Australia (OUA) and is a college-level course offered online at no charge. You'll learn how to create positive experiences for website visitors. The site also offers accredited courses as well.

These are just a few of the free and inexpensive resources to get you started. Your local community college is also a good source for expanding your UX knowledge.

Expanding Into UX Design

Designers learn from studying other artists, creating new things and taking courses. Hone in on the functionality of design, how to make things usable and the overall framework on which a site is designed. With a little effort, you'll become a pro at UX design and be able to add this element to your designer resume, too.

 

Lexie is a graphic designer and typography enthusiast. She spends most of her time A/B testing websites and creating style guides. Check out her blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

 


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