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Three In-Demand Career Roles to Explore in Visual Design

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Renee Fleck April 29, 2021 · 4 min read

Back in the day, the job of a designer generally fell under two main umbrellas—graphic designer and web designer. As the industry has continued to evolve over the last two decades, so too have the different terminologies used to describe specific designer skill sets. Among these new terminologies is Visual Design.
What exactly defines Visual Design? While the term might sound somewhat vague, it’s actually used to describe a few niche areas of design. In this post, we’ll explore the three main job types that live under the banner of Visual Design, their main differences, and what specific goals each role aims to accomplish. But first things first, let’s start by defining Visual Design.

What is Visual Design?

A Visual Designer focuses almost exclusively on creating visual assets for digital products, apps, websites, and software. The keyword here is digital. Unlike graphic designers whose role may encompass both print and online projects, Visual Designers focus on driving the vision in a digital environment. They are responsible for defining and creating a visual language that supports a digital product or brand.
Now, let’s dive into the three main job types that live under the umbrella of Visual Design—though, keep in mind, the skill sets associated with each of these roles will often overlap. In fact, you might find that job descriptions will often seek out a Visual Designer in more general terms. Nonetheless, if you want to build a career in Visual Design, it’s important to understand the subtle differences implied in each role.

1. Brand Designer

Brand Designers are responsible for creating a cohesive, visual experience between brand and product. This typically entails using an existing brand system (consisting of color, typography, and composition guidelines) to create on-brand visuals that can be used across various platforms and formats. These include but are not limited to:

  • Social media campaigns
  • Web page art direction
  • Marketing assets & materials
  • New product/feature branding
  • Art direction for product illustrations

Using a shared brand language as the foundation for these visuals, a Brand Designer’s higher-level goal is to ensure that all visual communication supports the overarching brand story and message.
Brand Campaign Ads by Talia Eisenberg for Zendesk

2. UI designer

UI Design stands for User Interface Design—in other words, the interaction between a user and a digital screen. The job of a UI designer consists of designing screens, buttons, icons, images, text, and every other visual element that a user sees and interacts with.
By definition, a UI designer’s role is to design the look and feel of a product while keeping usability needs top of mind. UI designers must also work closely with the larger Product team to ensure the emotion and character of the product are preserved and conveyed through the interface’s visuals:

“UI design is not only the appearance of a product and its aesthetics, but it’s also a product’s character and emotion.”

— Viacheslav Olianishyn, Obys Agency

The higher-level goals of a UI Designer include:

  • Building a lasting relationship with customers/users
  • Creating designs that reflect the brand voice
  • Designing a memorable, recognizable product
  • Keeping functionality and usability top of mind

By nature, this type of role requires frequent collaboration between product, marketing, and development teams. Therefore, understanding the Product Design process and where UI design fits into it is key.
Medical Tests Mobile App by Anastasia

3. Web Designer

After exploring the role of a UI designer, you might be asking what the difference is between UI Design and Web Design? The main difference is that Web Designers will focus solely on website design, while UI designers will work on any kind of digital product screen (mobile apps, software, web applications, kiosks, etc.). Web Design is more focused on the big picture than finessing micro-interactions, therefore it’s less iterative than UI design.
As a web designer, you’ll focus on the visual layout of a website and defining its overall aesthetic. Web designers will work on things like:

  • Information architecture
  • Visual hierarchy
  • Imagery, colors, and typography choices
  • Accessibility
  • Responsive design

Ultimately, while UI design fits into the larger Product Design process, Web Designers are more focused on designing the overall look and feel of a website.
GOTOEGYPT Travel Landing Page by Achraf Elkaami

Wrapping up

Keep in mind that the role of a Visual Designer will look different depending on the needs of a company—especially as brands and products continue to evolve. If this is a career path you want to pursue, know you’ll be expected to work cross-functionally with other teams to align on vision and larger business goals. Visual Design is an exciting, dynamic career path that’s definitely worth exploring!


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About the Author
Author
Renee Fleck

Content Manager at Dribbble. Design enthusiast who is passionate about helping creatives learn, grow, and get hired. Dribbble.com/reneefleck

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2 Comments
  • Interesting stuff! I consider myself a UI designer - I create touch panel graphics for smart homes. Design is definitely an afterthought for many programmers who create these controls, which I think is sad. 2 years ago
  • hooray, thanks to put my work on blog :) 2 years ago