Graphic Design vs. Visual Design – What’s the Difference?
As a graphic designer, have you ever heard the term “visual design” and wondered how it differs from graphic design? Or are you planning to get into visual design? If yes, you must have lots of questions in your mind, such as whether the visual design has got anything to do with creating for the web.
Graphic design, as a term, encompasses all disciplines. However, not every graphic designer out there may be aware of how to hone the look of a mobile application as perfectly as they’d do with a brand logo, for example. Because if they did this, there wouldn’t be tons of opportunities in mastering the art of making a website look appealing and work flawlessly across different devices.
So whether you are a graphic designer who is just curious to learn the difference between graphic design and visual design or are planning to get into this field, this blog post is exactly what you need. Let’s dive into the details of graphic design vs. visual design now.
End Goals Are Different
As a rule of thumb, the first point any curious person carrying out research should focus on is the end goal or the end product which they will be working on. And this case is no exception.
Typically, both graphic designers and visual designers’ job is to make a visual graphic and illustrate its aesthetic. In both these scenarios, the primary goal is to come up with a creative solution to convey whatever message they are supposed to get across. Perhaps one of the key differences is the medium that is being focused on here. To put it in a more specific way – graphic design deals with a wide range of outputs, including web and print designs. In contrast, visual design is rigidly all about digital applications.
A visual designer exceeds with a comprehensive aesthetic focusing on working persistently across various touchpoints, developing complete visual languages for a product or brand. It should include how the whole organization approaches design projects. In simple words, it can be said that graphic designers convey information while visual designers focus on the complete look and feel of the brand and product.
Being a graphic designer who is hoping to spread their wings into the visual aspect, the most significant adjustment you will have to make is on the art of adjustment only. A certain amount of flexibility is required in visual design, particularly when you begin dealing with the user interface.
While making a piece of graphic design, designers will most probably have a few very particular specifications to work on, such as the dimensions of a banner. However, on the other hand, in the case of visual design or user interface, it’s all about malleability and adjustability. For instance, designers are asked to consider a visual element not only the way it is on specific screen dimensions but also how it is going to adjust itself on every other possible device and its dimensions simultaneously.
Where and how will the visual element be placed precisely?
How will it interact with the people?
How are you going to create it?
Even for an element as simple as a button, you need to put in so much thought to meet the user accessibility norms and engaging aesthetic. It’s all about adjusting your mindset.
Visual design is more about creating a template of the kind that you see on website building platforms. It is more about being a perfectionist on a specific font type or leaving out a huge chunk of white in order to adapt ad space. Aesthetics are essential, but usability is just as vital.
The visual aspect is merely a part of the entire process. Spending too much time on visual design and very little time on all the other parts of the user interface (UI) design won’t enhance the overall user experience anyway.
Being flexible does not merely mean to let go of adhering to specifications, but also to let go of aesthetics beyond a particular point. Trying to make a very eye-pleasing visual element might rob you of your valuable time to build an engaging user experience.
Visual designers make decisions by metrics. Information architecture, interface design, and interaction design impact the overall user experience together. Therefore, you might want to acquire proficiency in these areas too.
It isn’t just about getting the hierarchy and grid right; it is more about the entire user journey. The visual designer needs to focus on A/B testing, user testing and signposting. Again, there are the same graphic designer basics, but here the considerations are pretty distinct, and the designs are made more on metric-based decisions instead of design consideration.
During the graphic designing process, you make a design look great or think about the way you can make it look as great as possible with regard to hierarchy and consistency, and then you persuade the client about its value. On the other hand, in visual design, it has been observed that there is an ongoing conflict between what looks visually powerful and what the metrics might be indicating to you.
One of the quickest ways to adjust your mindset to visual design is to switch from typical photoshop tools to experience design tools. Visual design goes beyond Photoshop. And as a designer looking to get into this field, you must get your hands on the best software for visual designers as early as possible.
There is plenty of such helpful software and apps available in the market. These tools will come in handy for you to guide the user experience (UX) through icon shapes and lines. Such tools will also let you accommodate your graphic design sensibilities, knowing where and when to leave out the white space for the most significant effect and when to keep things as simple as you can for the end-user.
Wrapping It Up
We hope this blog has been able to help clear things up on graphic design vs. visual design. As an aspiring visual designer, first, you should know the difference between these two fields. While they are somewhat interrelated, they do have some significant discrepancies which cannot be overlooked. The best thing to do is to join a course on visual designing. It will help you in the long run. There are plenty of online courses available too. Start familiarizing yourself with the best tools used in visual designing, and you will be all set to go.