Transitioning From Graphic Design to UX Career
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Published on March 12, 2015
With the increase in demand for creating well designed user experiences, many professionals in other design fields are considering adapting their skills to make a move from graphic design to user experience (UX) design. While graphic design and UX design do have some commonalities, it’s important to note that UX is more than creating a beautifully design website or app. The design component of UX is only a subset of the overall user experience process, known as user interface (UI) design, and there are many differences between UX and UI. A graphic designer making a move into either user interface or user experience design will need to consider a number of factors, which are discussed in this article.
Differences Between Graphic Design and UX
A graphic designer is focused on design, branding, communicating a message, and overall tone and clarity of a message. In UX role, the focus shifts to meeting the needs of the user and the business or organization that is creating an app or website. While both graphic design and UX include planning, within UX design the process has more steps, and can involve research, information architecture, prototyping, wireframing, and testing before an app or website is completed. This is much more involved than most graphic design work, which generally involves creating draft versions of a design, and then moving to a final piece. Rarely do graphic design works go through usability tests, and they don’t need to consider things such as what screen a user is looking at before seeing the design, and how will they navigate on to the next screen. Yet all these factors are commonplace in UX design.
Learning UX Skills as a Graphic Designer
One way to make sure that you're ready to transition into a career in UX design is by investing some time and effort to learn UX skills. You can start with an individual workshop or classes, or take a longer-term UX certificate program that includes many courses covering the skills needed for a UX career. If you have several years of time, you can also consider a university degree in the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), or Human Factors Engineering, which relate closely to user experience.
UX Training for Groups and Teams
If an entire team at an organization needs to gain new UX skills, ongoing private UX training for groups is available help a team transition into managing user experience responsibilities. These private UX courses and workshops include general principles, but also can incorporate specific projects that are important to the organization. The training experience also serves as a team building exercise, and provides all members of the group with the same foundation, creating a more consistent and streamlined set of processes through the design and development process.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.