There are new exciting career paths for designers as technology advances, user experience (UX) designers are in high demand. If you’re a graphic designer, it’s a fairly smooth transition to UX design.
Currently, companies are aware of the importance of putting customers at the center of their strategy, and they need professionals with UX design skills, capable of aligning business objectives with the needs of their customers. It’s a multidisciplinary profession of great relevance in the market nowadays.
In fact, websites and software applications are more visual and include more valuable information than ever before. They also focus on having a simple navigation and pleasant design to facilitate the UX. Steve Krug says it best in his book “Don't make me Think”. That’s the benefit of adding graphic design skills to UX design, it’s really the perfect mix.
Good UX produces passionate and happy customers. This allows you to charge more for products and services that people love and consider valuable. On the other hand, poor UX will lead to loss of clients and revenues.
If you’re a graphic designer looking for an ux design career path, or adding a new skill to your current abilities, but you’re not sure how to start the transition, this article is for you!
UX Design vs Graphic Design
Before going into the details of how to transition to UX design from graphic design, it’s essential to define what UX design is all about and how it differs from graphic design. Graphic design and UX design have some commonalities (both require creative thinking), but there are key differences as well:
Graphic design deals with the visual aspects of design (fonts, colors, images, animations, etc) and creates a good esthetic. Indeed, a graphic designer focuses on creating visual communication, capturing the messages in appealing images. It’s an artistic and technical activity for creating the image and esthetic style of a business.
Importance of graphic design in visual projects
Having a graphic designer in your project is fundamental if you need appealing images and graphics to convey a professional message to your clients. Particularly, you need a graphic designer for the following reasons:
- Positioning your brand. A graphic designer has the ability to visually project the values and personality of your brand.
- Branding unity. A graphic designer takes care of the image and style of the visual communication of your business.
- Professionalism. Graphic designers advise and make design modifications.
- Productivity. A good graphic designer is efficient and adequately organizes work time for each project.
- Notoriety. It’s one of the most important communication channels between a company and its public. So, capturing consumer attention with great and eye-catching designs is a must.
UX design consists of designing the entire experience that users have with a product and website. It includes more than the visuals such as the information architecture (the organization and presentation of the information), the user interface, the design interaction (how users can interact with the product or service), and many others. elements.
According to Nielsen Norman Group, UX designers facilitate all aspects of the interaction between users and a business, its services, and its products. So, the role of the UX designer is demanding. Unlike graphic designers, UX designers focus on the interaction and usability of a website to satisfy users’ needs.
Another difference between graphic design and UX design is the design process itself. Whereas for a graphic designer, the design process ends after the product’s launching. For a UX designer, launching a product is just one step in the design process. A UX design is continually testing and adjusting the UX strategy based on user feedback.
So, a UX professional has a deeper understanding of cognitive psychology, human-computer interaction, and research design than graphic designers.
However, switching from graphic design to UX design is easier if you already know how to make draw-dropping images and visuals for your clients, in fact, it’s an advantage. UX is not an exclusive club for those with the right talent and extensive training, on the contrary, a career change is smooth to those who have design abilities. Here are some tips to consider when switching from graphic design to UX design:
1. Learn new skills
One way to ensure that you’re ready to transition to a career in UX design is to invest some time in learning ux design skills. UX design comprises several fields, and designers should learn about psychology, sociology, art and more; to create appropriate solutions to users' problems.
Consequently, UX design is multidisciplinary. For this reason, it’s impossible to learn all these disciplines immediately, but you can understand the foundations of many disciplines in a short period.
To achieve mastery, your first step is consulting what the best players in your field do and model their strategy and path. No matter what your background is; modeling their behaviors and strategies help you accelerate your dreams and achieve more in a shorter time.
Look at the skills you can transfer to your new role. For instance, graphic designers moving to UX design already know how to make attractive visuals and great esthetics, and this is a great talent for enhancing UX. Don't discard your graphic design skills.
2. Build a UX design portfolio
What are employers looking for when hiring UX designers? They consider relevant factors such as experience and a design portfolio, and normally, career changers face the same troubles as recent graduates seeking their first jobs… that is, getting hired for a UX design position, you need a portfolio and experience.
And how do you get experience? Easily, here are some tips:
• Participate in Daily UI Challenge and include your favorite artwork in your portfolio. It would help you as a beginner to boost your skills and at the same time create a social presence.
• Participate as a volunteer in non-profit projects. Volunteer platform connects volunteers with projects of non-profit organizations anywhere in the world. In fact, non-profit organizations find in young people an important engine to carry out projects, and inexperienced professionals enhance their abilities to help others too.
For this reason, platforms like Indeed or LinkedIn offer volunteer jobs. Or Catchafire, which specializes in offering a common space to match organizations and volunteers, and for graphic designers is a good way to start. Helping others is helping you. It’s not about working for free, you are adding value to the market while you build your portfolio.
This way, you can learn from other design professionals while facing real challenges and providing results that you can add to your experience as positive contributions to society. Just choose a cause you can help. Almost all volunteers end up with the same feeling: they give a lot but receive even more.
How can you start volunteering?
For example, in Catchafire, to become a volunteer, you need to register and answer some questions, so that the tool can filter the programs according to your interests. There are jobs in digital marketing, graphic design, UX design, among many others.
Once you select a project, you will have a brief interview to determine whether or not you are suitable for the position.
In short, working as a volunteer is a good opportunity for professionals from all over the world to put aside excuses and begin to collaborate on a project that allows them to add value to society and start building a portfolio.
3. Look for user-centered designs
When you have a graphic design background, creating a perfect layout is easy, but as a UX designer, you must keep in mind the following aspects:
- Usability is a keystone of UX. A common problem is that many designers concentrate more on looks, and less on usability and functionality. Make sure you add usability elements in your design from the beginning to make an effective job.
- Avoid starting visual design too early. You should focus on how things work, not on their look. Users don't use a service just because it's a great design. They need to satisfy their needs by using your product… A pretty design is a must, but not a priority.
4. Concentrate on user research and collecting feedback
The diversity of media that exists today brings us closer to our customers and it is possible to take advantage of this opportunity. Businesses understand the importance of listening to what their customers have to say and your job as a UX designer is to create products that provide great UX and you can achieve it by researching your target audience.
Research is fundamental in UX design training. You cannot create valuable products unless you understand your user’s problems, and graphic designers looking to change careers will have to spend time learning how to conduct user research.
Do you know what are the main advantages of collecting feedback? You will take note, improve your product and achieve happier, more profitable customers.
- Use surveys. Don't just post the survey online or leave it on the counter. Actively spread it on social networks to stimulate the participation of your customers. Also, make sure to periodically analyze the information collected to take action and make changes.
- Social Networks. Social networks like Facebook offer an ideal environment to listen to your customers. Read the comments of your posts and understand what your audience is looking for.
- Direct Contact. Organize phone calls or take advantage of the face-to-face contact you have with your customers to inquire about their experience with your product or service. Don't wait for them to come up with the first complaint or to directly opt for the competition! Proactivity is key.
5. Build a network
Once you have practical UX design skills and a UX portfolio, you’ll need to focus on building a good network. Networking is critical for UX designers (and all professionals) because when someone in your same field recommends you for a position, it’s easier to get a job opportunity. You can start networking on LinkedIn or Medium and join UX-related groups to interact with people to build relationships.
Few people consider networking their favorite activity, so set a goal: talk to 10 people or spend more time on professional events. Then reward yourself, and raise the stakes next time!
If you've had small talks here and there, collected an impressive pile of business cards and made a few contacts online; you may get meetings but it’s not the right time to rest. The work has just begun. Now, you have to feed the network, get in touch with them, send out holiday cards and make sure they don't forget about you; you never know when you'll need them.
But take it easy, you need to build relationships with people before asking for a job.
Other tips for facilitating the transition from graphic designer to UX designer
- Don't be afraid to show your work and let people give you their feedback, you’ll learn a lot from critics and you’ll know what works.
- UX designers work closely with users and other team members to ensure that the final product matches the user's expectations.
The best of both worlds from just one ability!
UX and graphic design are different, but the impressions a graphic design produces in users are also important. Customers' thoughts about a product are a result of the experiences and feelings they get while using your website or application.
A graphic designer can take the role of a UX designer, thinking about selling products or services. So, is there a difference between graphic design and UX design? Definitely, but it’s not a big deal! Graphic designers already know what to do and UX design principles will expand your career.
The goal of the UX designer is to achieve customer satisfaction when accessing the information contained in a website while directing them through the key points of the site to obtain user conversion. To accomplish this task, the UX will require the prior work of the graphic designer, who is in charge of creating the logo and graphic visual identity of the brand. Both jobs are complementary, that’s why many UX designers come from the world of graphic design because the transition is easier and they already know how to make complex and usable visual resources.
If you need further help, Reach out to us today and we’ll help you with UX matters and more!