4 reasons graphic designers switch to UX

⭐️ Key takeaways

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The biggest problem Graphic, Visual, Web, or UI designers deal with that drains their motivation and passion is subjectivity.

UX is a game-changer because it gives you the ability to defend your design decisions using data from user research.

The entire UX process is built around continual user and stakeholder feedback. If something doesn’t work in your designs, you’ll hear about it from users or stakeholders along the way. It’s not about what YOU like. It’s not about what your teammates like. It’s about creating a design that works for users.

There are 4 phases to the UX process:

  • Research & understanding
  • Information architecture & wireframing
  • Prototyping & usability testing
  • Visual design & handoff

At some point during the process, you’ll have to gain the approval of your stakeholders on your designs. This is why it’s important to continually check in with stakeholders throughout the process so they are not surprised with what you’ve come up with.

Communication is absolutely critical throughout the entire process for a project to be successful.

📗 Assignment

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💬 Transcript

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Over the past few years, we've talked to hundreds of designers looking to transition into UX. 

They'd lost passion for their jobs, and thought UX was the best route. 

With every new conversation, we kept hearing the same four things over and over. 

First, they were tired of the subjectivity of visual design. 

They worked tirelessly producing beautiful pixel perfect work. Only to be confronted with stakeholders opinions. 

They would consistently have to go back and redo their work based on opinions, they didn't even agree with. And they had no way to defend their work. 

How many times has this happened to you? 

You're given a design task, you go into your creative cave, and you spend a ton of time crafting beautiful pixel-perfect designs. You pour your heart and soul into the work and you really believe in what you created. 

Yet when showing it to stakeholders, it feels like hitting a wall of subjectivity. 

The respond with things like: 

"I kind of like it, but it doesn't look quite right to me."

Or " I think this is cool, but it doesn't work for us."

Or " I'm underwhelmed."

Or even. " Hmmmm... this isn't what I was looking for." By the 50th iteration, you're saying, "kill me I'm done with this." 

Not only it is mentally exhausting, it makes you feel like you only exist to take orders. 

Like your only purpose is to push pixels until your manager or client is happy. 

That's why we are so passionate about empowering designers to go past this problem thanks to UX. 

It is a game changer! More than that later. 

But the thing is that we heard plenty of horrible stories from tons of designers.

And this one may sound familiar.

You're working on a design project and go to a meeting with a few other stakeholders. Everyone wants to come together to help ideate on the best design possible. 

While this sounds great, not everyone agrees on the final design, so it becomes design-by-committee. 

You hear a ton of different opinions and can't fully defend your design decisions against the barrage of conflicting feedback. 

Usually this means the design quality takes a massive nose dive. And what about this situation? 

An executive stakeholder or client wants to listen in on a meeting. When seeing your designs, they ask to add something that makes the composition feel unbalanced and diminishes your role as a designer. 

Because they are higher up in the company, you don't feel you have the authority to push back against their decision. 

In these situations, trying to defend your visual design decisions is pretty much like talking to a huge wall of subjectivity. 

It can feel even more frustrating when stakeholders don't know design principles. 

Battling against subjectivity can seriously chip away at your passion for graphic design. 

After all, hitting the subjectivity wall may be okay a few times, but after the 50th or 100th time, it's normal to start losing passion. 

Your enthusiasm for graphic design might still be intact, but maybe not as a career. 

Second, they felt sick of taking orders and pushing pixels until the manager or client felt happy. 

Third, that we're done just making things pretty and wanting to make an impact. They wanted a deeper motive and felt like visual design was too surface level by itself. 

Last, they felt visual design was too narrow and their creativity was constrained. They wanted to expand their creativity to full product design, not just the visual assets. 

But here's the thing, we only just scratching the surface here. 

Some designers are so done with their career. Here are a few quotes from fellow graphic, visual or UI designers we've heard. Let's start with this one. 

"Quite frankly, salary. I can't make a living in graphic design, and I have experience in physical product design and graphic." 

Or "My biggest pain is not being valued for the work I do and feeling like afterthought to put a band-aid over an issue." 

Or even, " Currently my largest pain is that I deal with people "who have an eye for design" and then ask you to make design changes that either fall out of brand or the elements of design. And because my salary sucks, I don't really care about defending my stance." 

Do you see why we are passionate to empower designers to become kickass UX designers? 

They aspire to become valued team members were fairly compensated for the work that you do. Who wouldn't want that? 

When we ask them designers have great aspirations, such as "I want to ensure that my designs are research-based and solve user and business needs." 

Or this person who said, "I'm looking into UX as I would love to work on the whole process of creating a product that will fit to the end user needs effectively, not just making it look pretty." 

You get the point. 

There is a chance that one or several of these statements resonate with you. 

If any of them do resonate with you, that can be tough to live with on a daily basis. Over time, these feelings truly undermine your passion for the field. That's where you UX comes in. 

Instead of going up a huge wall of subjectivity from your boss and clients, you only have to jump over a small subjective hurdles, which is much as your things to use a research. While subjectivity still exist in UX design, there are plenty of strategies you can use to mitigate it. There are so many benefits transitioning from graphic designer to UX designer. 

You go from being an order-taker to a decision-maker. 

As a UX designer, you have the creative freedom to explore many ways to solve a problem. In fact, that's a big part of the job. And then test your ideas with actual users, so you have real-world data to back up your design decisions. 

 As a UX designer, you go from just making things pretty to making things beautiful and useful, relevant, and meaningful for people. 

You go from just creating the visual design to a multifaceted creative career where you broaden on your impact. 

You're in tune was the people use the product because you've taken the time to understand their problems and needs. 

And on top of all of that, you still retain the ability to create high-fidelity designs that look stunning. 

We are willing to bet that once you get a taste of UX, you will not want to go back. 

So why are graphic designers incredibly well-positioned to become top-performing UX designers? 

Put simply, it's because they already have a ton of visual design expertise. This is what takes UX designers the longest time to master.

At a high level, the UX process bowls down to four stages. Discover. Create. Test. Build and iterate. 

Basically, we first started by discovering a problem. We do research, lists, business requirements, and generally try to understand and empathize with users. 

We then start creating a bunch of basic concepts that solve their problem. 

We test it with actual users to get their feedback. If he doesn't go well, we'll repeat the process. 

Once it finally goes well, we move on to the last stage where we create the high-fidelity solution and hand it off for final production. 

For digital products, we prefer to be more specific about what we'll be doing during each phase. So, this is what we personally call each of the four stages of the UX process. First, is research and understanding. Second, is information architecture and wireframing. Third, prototyping and usability testing. 

And forth, visual design and handoff. 

The last and fourth stage is something that you already have a bunch of experience with making the learning curve much smaller. While you may have never worked on actual user interfaces, you already went through years of creative trial and error. 

This has helped build your sense of why something looks good or bad. The same fundamentals of graphic design apply to the visual design side of UX. 

The lack of visual design experience is why so many entry level UX designers have a really, really hard time getting into UX. Many entry level UXers are great at creating high level designs that solve a problem. Unfortunately, they don't have the experience with putting the visuals together. 

This leads to often cluttered, confusing, and ugly looking designs that make the overall experience for short. 

The entry level UX market is extremely competitive. 

Many candidates can't get in the industry because they lack visual design skills. 

UX designers are expected to be able to handle the whole process themselves. 

If an entry-level UXer has to hand off visuals to someone else, that doesn't cut it. 

Visual design is hard.

It takes years of practice to master. 

As a graphic visual or web designer, you already put in your time. 

You have experience creating stunning visuals. 

Because of this, you are ahead of the competition. 

This makes it so much easier to transition from graphic design to UX. With UX, your designs are no longer just beautiful.

They're also useful and meaningful to people. 

And yes, you can say goodbye to walls of subjectivity you used to go up against. 

You can back up your design decisions with user research. 

Here is the great thing about UX. It's not about what you like, it's not about what your teammates like, it's about creating designs that work for users.

🔗 Links

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Intro to user experience design

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