Where Do Good UX and Visual Design Converge?

“Usability and aesthetics are the two most important factors in assessing the overall user experience for an application.” Wikipedia Aesthetic–usability effect

Visual Design: Utilizes design elements and principles to create aesthetic appeal and usability.

Human Centered: Involves the human perspective in the design process.

User Experience Design (UX): Encourages user behavior via usability, usefulness, and desirability in interactions.

As a UX Designer who knows your user is your priority, Visual Design can help guide and delight users aesthetically. 

Quality UX and Visual Design should be Human-Centered. Both should optimize user experiences and drive conversions.

Visual Design

Visual design uses elements to create effective communication and convey a message to an audience (e.g. users).

A Visual Design understanding saves time and money in the design process and reduces re-work. Most importantly, it gives you the ability to translate a vision into reality and having a basic understanding of Visual Design can help you create better UX designs!

Helpful Visual Design Skills for UX Design

These skills help you execute ideas and deliver for your users:

  • Creativity
    Design is a practice that evolves very quickly, creatively and technically. Stay in touch with your creative side through exposure to current design standards and trends. It’s important to remain curious and open minded to adapt to new tools and emerging technologies. This flexibility goes a long way and allows you to adapt to your clients’ required needs.
  • Communication
    Designers must know how to explain design concepts and the decisions behind their work. It’s important to be able to speak to audiences at all levels of technical knowledge. This can be particularly useful when explaining to a Product Owner or Developer why a certain UX decision was made and getting buy in from stakeholders.
  • Strategy
    Strategic thinking enables you to plan for the future. This is vital for accomplishing business objectives and overcoming obstacles. As a designer you should anticipate your client’s needs and ensure current designs align with a future state vision.
  • Problem Solving
    Solving complex problems and removing obstacles is a daily practice of any designer. You must find a solution that takes into account your client’s different requirements and needs.
  • Constructive Criticism
    Do not take feedback personally! The main priority of feedback is to create a quality product. With UX, it is important to remove ego and allow users to guide the design.

Helpful Visual Design Principles for UX Design

These principles help you communicate effectively and guide your users visually:

  • Scale
    Depending on your use of scale, elements can appear miniature or oversized. Choosing to make particular elements miniature or oversized creates an emphasis on importance.
  • Visual Hierarchy
    Good visual hierarchy = good usability.
    Hierarchy shows the importance of your elements and can help guide users to important content or desired actions. You can do this by adjusting an element’s size and color. Users notice larger and brighter elements more easily.
  • Balance
    Balance provides a sense of stability and is aesthetically pleasing. Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. To achieve balance, account for the distribution of elements, colors, texture, and space. Make sure to draw attention to certain focal points without overwhelming or obstructing the view as a whole.
  • Contrast
    Our eyes are drawn to contrast; this is another way of creating emphasis. Contrast is also necessary for accessibility and 508 compliance purposes. You want to design an inclusive product that is easy to read and see.
  • Gestalt
    Finally, it’s important to be familiar with Gestalt to tie everything together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Commonly referenced Gestalt principles are: Similarity, Continuation, Closure, Proximity and Figure-ground.

There is a lot of debate regarding these different design disciplines.

Ultimately, it’s not necessary to be both a Visual and UX designer, however a basic understanding of both disciplines is helpful.

As I grew as a Designer, I started utilizing UX principles without realizing it. Likewise, I found many of the skills I learned from Visual Design transferred to UX Design.

A product developed with UX considerations better meets users’ needs and visually appealing products are more intuitive, thus adopted faster.

Visual Designers should explore UX and vice versa. By learning from each other we can design better products for our clients.

Want to learn more about how to combine UX and Visual Design? Let’s talk! 

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