Graphic design vs UX design: what's the difference?

Graphic design vs UX design: what’s the difference?

DesignThis VS That
Example of Graphic Design

Do you find yourself searching for a graphic designer online, but never seem to find the person who offers you the help you need?

If you are looking for design solutions for a digital problem, then typical graphic design services may not be your answer. Instead, it is more likely that you need to hire from a more modern discipline. Something like UX design.

In this blog post, I want to take you through the main differences between graphic design and UX design, so you have a better understanding of which job to hire for on your next project.

Let’s dive into graphic design vs UX design.


What is graphic design?

Before digital media was an option, someone studying graphic design could offer services in the print, branding and illustration spaces. Their work would result in physically printed media (for example signage, business logos, flyers, graphic artwork, etc.) Today graphic designers also work on digital formats, like social media graphics or static Google display adverts. In both cases, the resulting media is considered a ‘flat’ design.

Simply speaking, graphic designers communicate their ideas through the medium of text and images in the following ways: 

  • Visual Communication: primarily focuses on creating visual content that communicates a message or idea.
  • Print and Digital Media: work on both online and offline mediums.
  • Aesthetics and Branding: an emphasis on aesthetics and visual appeal, which evoke specific emotions or reactions.
  • Static Design: it typically involves creating static designs that are viewed or interacted with passively.

They understand empathically how and where to use images and text on a page to provoke a desired action or reaction. For example, a cleverly designed flyer sells your service or product, just as a well-illustrated comic can communicate the emotion of a storyline.

There is a broader use of the term “graphic design” and this, I think, is where the confusion often lies.

The field of graphic design has widely diversified over the years, with the invention of the digital space and whilst we still use the term today, typically speaking you would expect a graphic designer to remain focused on flat or static formats. You would instead seek specialist designers to work on more niche disciplines, like UX design, where they have diversified their skill set to work with visuals and communication techniques to explore more interactive solutions.


Example of Graphic Design


What is UX design?

UX design as a term might not come up in everyday conversation, yet (though we are working on it!), but it is something that is considered in every website you view online.

User experience design or UX design for short is a specialism focussing on a design using interactive elements to enable the user to achieve a goal on a website or application, it includes:

  • User-Centred Design: creating meaningful and enjoyable experiences for users.
  • Interaction Design: the overall flow and interaction within a digital product or service.
  • Research and Testing: such as interviews and usability testing, to gather insights and validate design decisions.
  • Human-Computer Interaction: how users interact with technology and aim to optimise usability and accessibility.

A great example is the interactive trip planner we designed for Adventure Base. When you click on each map pin it shows you your proposed itinerary; making journey planning more detailed and exciting for the user. This has increased sales as a result.

To create these digital products UX designers use research, user journeys, personas and prototyping to inform and enhance their designs. At Strafe, the way we easily summarise this to clients is to think of it as a beautiful, yet functional design.

UX design is often used for digital products and services, from SaaS products or websites to content. 

Whilst this discipline can be mistakenly referred to as graphic design, you can see there are some huge differences between the two disciplines.




Read more: UX vs UI: what’s the difference?


Graphic design vs UX design: which do you really need?

In sourcing design services for your next digital project, it is really important to understand what you need from your designer. Are you looking to design a campaign that exists solely in static imagery on social and print, for example? Then you need a Graphic Design. Or are you looking to build an interactive website that allows users to engage and convert? Then you need a UX Designer. 

Hiring the right people for the right job saves you time and money!

At Strafe Creative we specialise in UX design, working closely with our clients to identify their pain points, customer personas and a clear objective for their digital creations. 

If you want to improve conversions, user experience or customer intent, get in touch using the Project Planner below.

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