A Shift in Focus: The Transition from Graphic Design to UX Design


User experience – or UX – is everything in the modern business landscape. Digital platforms and online marketplaces are now connecting customers with an unprecedented array of choices and alternatives.

Statistics reported in the Huffington Post showed that 67% of customers blamed a poor UX as their reason for leaving the fold of a company. It is up to 7 times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. With this in mind, it is easy to see why the UX market is booming and why companies are investing more and more in design.

This boom has opened a door of opportunities for designers and in recent years the industry has seen an incredible shift of graphics designers make the transition into the world of UX. This transition is not always a smooth one. The attributes required to thrive in the world of graphic design are not enough to guarantee success as a User Experience Designer.

Below are some of the common challenges facing those who step from graphic design into UX design.


Wrong Attitude to Feedback

In the graphic design field, designers are taught to defend their work and to argue that the solution they provide is the best. Conversely, in the field of user experience, designers must understand the problems and find solutions keeping the users in mind, always considering that the purpose of UX design is to serve other people and not themselves.


Poorly Developed Communicative Skills

UX designers need to be able to adequately communicate design aims and objectives to other members of a team; something which requires a very specific skillset.

The lack of this skill is most common among junior graphic designers, who rarely get an opportunity to present their thinking. This makes it hard for someone to develop the confidence they need when presenting work. UX designers instead are encouraged to communicate and share their thinking.


Inflexible Design

Once a designer falls in love with an idea, it can be difficult to change direction and to adapt. This is why it is vital to design with the user in mind at every stage. Sometimes what looks like the perfect solution to the designer might not be what the users need. In the graphic design field, the client has the last say, sometimes the designer, while in UX is all down to the user, meaning a lot more adaptation and listening before arriving to conclusions.


Wrong Attitude to Development

There are some similarities between graphic design and UX design, but negotiating a successful transition requires a serious commitment to learning new concepts and taking on new ideas. Without a positive attitude towards self-education and development, this becomes impossible.


Individual Processes Rather than Collaborative Ones

While collaborative work is necessary in graphic design, the ratio is much higher on UX design projects. Designers cannot afford to isolate themselves and must instead foster connected and communicative working practices if they are to achieve the right outcomes. This means including business people and developers in the design process thus enriching the solution.

There is still a lot to learn, particularly in Australia where the UX industry is still in its relative infancy. However, there are more schools and institutions now preparing incoming graduates and professionals to work in UX design and endless amount of online resources to learn from.

While for businesses, an investment in UX designers is a direct investment in their future and will help to safeguard the quality of user support and customer service going forward.


Written by


Alejandro Mejias