What Is UX Design And How Is It Different From Graphic Or User Interface Design?

UX’ers do the floor plan, creatives set the mood.

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Imagine walking into a house where you’ve never been before, but everything feels just right. The decoration matches your taste, you understand which light switches turn on which lights — and you know where to find the coffee cups — it just feels like the place has been designed around you!

That’s what UX does! So when you download an app or visit a website for the first time and it feels like that — you know a User Experience Designer (UX Designer) has been there.

Hey guys, my name is Justin and in this quick read, I’m going to explain what makes a UX Designer different from a Graphic or User Interface Designer.

I’ll also explain:

  • How a UX Designer approaches a design challenge;
  • Some example activities;
  • How much money they make;
  • And what experience you’ll need to get started.
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In most cases a UX designer is involved in a project from fairly early on, whereas Graphic or User interface designers normally join on a bit later to add the polish.

So while a Graphic or User Interface Designer would execute the details such as typography, colour palette and image style, a UX Designer would do things that inform the product vision further up the pipeline — which leads nicely into the next section:

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While a Graphic or User Interface Designer would usually do things such as create moodboards to inform the art direction of a project, or design a brand’s Visual Style Guide, a UX Designer would do things such as:

  • Interview people from the business to understand Business Goals;
  • Create prototypes / imitations of a new design;
  • Test that new design with actual customers and make improvements based on feedback.

But those are just a few — a longer list could be:

A UX Designer has a broad set of skills — but always uses them to deliver the best experience to the end user, while making sure that business requirements are met.

Because at the end of the day, Design is all about the bottom line.

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UX Designers earn pretty good money and enjoy the 2nd best work-life balance rating according to this study — and I totally agree on this! I love my job! ❤️

On average, UX Designers earn almost double what Graphic Designers do — and also slightly more than a UI Designer. If you read around the web you’ll see that UX Designers earn between $80,000 and $120,000 (depending on industry & experience). Graphic designers earn about $54,000 — while UI Designers earn just a bit less than UX.

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UX Designers come from all walks of life. Some from Psychology, some from HCI (Human Computer Interaction), some from Interior Design — I worked with somebody who is now the head of UX at a very well known retailer who started out as a secretary in a shipping company. So anything is possible… but the bare minimum you’ll need is a keen interest for design and problem solving.

A lot of the work that is done by UX Designers is less about the Visual and Creative Design side of things — but more about the insights you learn about users, and how you solve real world problems through the solutions you create for digital products.

In terms of tools; Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Corel Draw are some of the tools of choice for Graphic and User Interface Designers.

For UX Designers, the most popular design tools are Sketch, Adobe XD, and Invision. But on the research side — which is arguably much more important — there are a number of tools such as Usertesting.com, Optimal Workshop and Hotjar.

But perhaps the favourite among many UX’ers would have to be Post-it notes, whiteboards and marker pens!

UX Design often involves engaging directly with the end users through Face-To-Face interviews or other workshop-style activities. In these activities, important soft skills such as curiosity, empathy, humility, and being a good listener, are essential.

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UX, Graphic and User Interface Designers share a lot of commonalities — but the main thing that sets UX Designers apart, is the user-centred approach and how they validate their solutions with end users so that both user and business needs are being met.

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