Great design is the cornerstone of every company’s marketing and sales strategies. The average person spends 417 minutes online. That’s a whopping six hours and 57 minutes per day, consuming online content day in and day out. Companies need to build visually appealing and intuitive websites and a great-looking product or service.
With these requirements, the demand for UX, Visual, and Product designers is high. With companies like Forbes and Medium naming these creative tech careers as one of the most in-demand tech jobs in 2022 and 2023.
With that in mind, this article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of UX, Visual, and Product Design, understanding the main differences between each to help you determine which design type is the best choice.
Breaking it down: the difference between UX, Visual, and Product Design
If you’re looking to break into a tech design role, it’s critical to understand the difference between UX, Visual, and Product Design. All three design paths have significant differences, like the tech stack used, responsibilities, and salaries. We’ve broken it down below to help you choose the right fit for you.
UX (user experience) Design
- What is UX design?
UX (user experience) design is the process of designing digital products or services that are intuitive, efficient, and satisfying for users to interact with. It involves understanding the needs and behaviors of users, designing user interfaces, and testing and iterating the design to ensure that the product or service meets the user’s needs.
The goal of UX design is to create a product or service that is not only functional but also delightful to use. It involves a deep understanding of the user’s needs, expectations, and pain points, as well as an ability to design interfaces that are easy to navigate and understand.
- Main responsibilities of a UX designer
- Conducting user research: A UX designer must have a deep understanding of the users’ needs, goals, and behavior. They conduct user research, gather data, and use the information to design products that meet users’ needs.
- Creating user personas: User personas are fictional characters that represent different types of users. A UX designer creates these personas based on user research to help inform the design process and ensure that the product meets the needs of different user groups.
- Designing wireframes and prototypes: Wireframes are simple, low-fidelity designs that help designers map out the structure and layout of the product. Prototypes are interactive designs that allow users to interact with the product and provide feedback.
- Key tools
- Wireframing and prototyping tools: Designers use tools like Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD to create wireframes and interactive prototypes to test and refine their designs.
- User research and testing tools: There are several user research and testing tools available, such as UserTesting, Optimal Workshop, and Hotjar, that designers use to gather data and feedback from users.
- Design systems and style guides: Designers use tools like InVision Design System Manager, Abstract, and Zeplin to create and manage design systems and style guides, which ensure consistency and efficiency in the design process.
According to Glassdoor:
- USA: The average salary for a UX designer in the United States ranges from $65,000 to $125,000 per year, with a median salary of around $90,000.
- Canada: The average salary for a UX designer in Canada ranges from $55,000 to $95,000 per year, with a median salary of around $75,000.
- Singapore: The average salary for a UX designer in Singapore ranges from $30,000 to $120,000 per year, with a median salary of around $60,000.
- UK: The average salary for a UX designer in the United Kingdom ranges from £25,000 to £65,000 per year, with a median salary of around £40,000.
- Australia: The average salary for a UX designer in Australia ranges from AUD $60,000 to AUD $110,000 per year, with a median salary of around AUD $85,000.
- What is visual design?
Visual design is the art and practice of creating visual content to communicate information and ideas to an audience. It involves the use of typography, color, layout, and other design elements to create an aesthetically pleasing and effective visual representation of a message or concept.
Visual design can be used in a wide range of contexts, from advertising and marketing to user interface design, web design, and print design. The goal of visual design is to create a visual language that is both engaging and informative, helping to communicate ideas and information in a clear, concise, and visually appealing way. Some of the key elements of visual design include color theory, typography, layout and composition, visual hierarchy, and the use of imagery and other visual elements.
- Main responsibilities of a visual designer
- Conceptualizing and creating visual designs: Visual designers are responsible for creating designs that communicate a specific message or idea in a visually appealing and effective way. They may work on a wide range of design projects, such as logos, websites, marketing materials, and product packaging.
- Selecting and using appropriate design elements: Visual designers must have a good understanding of design principles such as color theory, typography, layout, and composition and use these elements to create effective designs that convey the desired message.
- Collaborating with clients and team members: Visual designers often work as part of a team, and they may need to collaborate with clients, art directors, writers, and other designers to ensure that the design meets the client’s needs and is aligned with the overall project goals.
- Key tools
- Graphic design software: Visual designers use graphic design software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, to create and manipulate digital images, illustrations, and layouts.
- Prototyping and wireframing tools: Visual designers use prototyping and wireframing tools, such as Sketch or Adobe XD, to create interactive mockups of websites, mobile apps, and other digital products.
- Color and typography tools: Visual designers use color and typography tools, such as Adobe Color or Google Fonts, to select and experiment with different color palettes and fonts.
According to Glassdoor:
- USA: The average base salary for a visual designer in the United States is $68,725 per year.
- Canada: The average salary for a visual designer in Canada is around C$49,000 per year.
- Singapore: The average base salary for a visual designer in Singapore is SGD 46,280 per year.
- UK: The average base salary for a visual designer in the United Kingdom is £31,023 per year.
- Australia: The average salary for a visual designer in Australia is around AU$60,000 per year.
- What is product design?
Product design is the process of creating new products that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It involves the entire process of designing a product, from the initial concept stage to the final production of the product.
Product design is focused on creating products that meet the needs and preferences of the end users. This requires understanding the target audience, their needs and behaviors, as well as the context in which the product will be used. Product designers must consider various factors, such as the functionality of the product, its usability, manufacturability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness.
The product design process typically involves several stages, including research, ideation, prototyping, testing, and final production. Throughout each stage, designers work to refine the product design, incorporating feedback from stakeholders and users to ensure that the product meets their needs and expectations.
- Main responsibilities of a product designer
- Research and analysis: Product designers must conduct research to identify the needs and preferences of the target audience and analyze market trends to inform the design process.
- Ideation and concept development: Based on research findings, product designers are responsible for generating ideas and developing concepts for new products that meet the target audience’s needs.
- Prototyping and testing: Once a concept is developed, product designers create prototypes to test and refine the design. They may conduct usability testing, focus groups, or other forms of feedback to identify areas for improvement.
- Key tools
- Sketching and ideation tools: Product designers often begin the design process by sketching ideas on paper or using digital tools to create sketches and concepts. Common sketching and ideation tools include pen and paper, sketchbooks, and digital software such as Sketch or Figma.
- Prototyping tools: Once a design concept is developed, product designers create prototypes to test and refine the design. Common prototyping tools include 3D printing software and hardware, laser cutters, and woodworking tools.
- Computer-aided design (CAD) software: Product designers use CAD software to create detailed 3D models of their designs. These models can be used to test the functionality of the product and to create detailed specifications for manufacturing. Common CAD software includes SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Fusion 360.
According to Glassdoor:
- USA: The average salary for a product designer is around $76,000 to $100,000 per year.
- Canada: The average salary for a product designer is around CAD 55,000 to CAD 85,000 per year.
- Singapore: The average salary for a product designer is around SGD 41,000 to SGD 72,000 per year.
- UK: The average salary for a product designer is around £25,000 to £45,000 per year for junior designers and £50,000 to £75,000 per year for senior designers.
- Australia: The average salary for a product designer is around AUD 50,000 to AUD 85,000 per year.
The dilemma: how to choose the right design career
Choosing the right design job can be daunting, but you can do a few things to help make the process easier. Here are some tips:
- Identify your strengths and interests: Make a list of the skills you excel in and the areas of technology you are passionate about. This will help you narrow your job search to roles aligning with your strengths and interests.
- Look at job descriptions: Carefully review the job description to see if the role aligns with your skill set and career goals. Pay attention to the required qualifications, responsibilities, and job expectations.
- Network with industry professionals: Connect with people in your desired industry and ask for advice on finding the right tech design job. They may be able to refer you to companies or roles that are a good fit for you.
- Trust your gut: If you have a good feeling about a company or role, it’s likely a sign that it’s a good fit for you. Conversely, if something doesn’t feel right, trust your intuition and keep looking.
Other careers in tech design (2023 edition)
UX, Visual, and Product Design jobs are among the most popular tech design jobs. However, there are other noteworthy design jobs out there that might be of interest to you. The design field is quite broad and includes various roles requiring different skill sets. So if you’re still wondering which career is best for you, here are other design jobs you might be interested in.
- User Interface (UI) Designer: UI designers focus on the visual design of digital products, including the layout, typography, and color scheme. They work closely with UX designers to ensure that the visual design supports the user experience.
The job involves creating and designing the visual and interactive elements of digital products, such as websites, mobile applications, and software interfaces. The goal of the UI designer is to create an interface that is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and aligned with the goals and needs of the product and its users.
- Interaction Designer: Interaction designers focus on designing the way users interact with a product or service, including the user interface and user experience. They create user flows, wireframes, and prototypes that help users accomplish their tasks efficiently and effectively.
Interaction designers are also known to conduct user research to understand the needs and behaviors of the target audience, and using that information to inform the design of the interactions.
- Graphic Designer: A graphic designer is a professional who designs visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. Graphic designers create designs for a variety of products, including advertising materials, marketing campaigns, logos, websites, books, magazines, and more.
- User Researcher: A user researcher’s job is to investigate and understand users’ behaviors, needs, and preferences to inform the design and development of products or services. They conduct research to gather data and insights through various methods, such as interviews, surveys, usability tests, and observation.
Overall, the goal of a user researcher is to ensure that products and services are designed with the user’s needs and preferences in mind, leading to a better user experience and more successful products.
No design experience, no problem
If you’re trying to break into the design world but have no prior experience, you can still pursue the career of your dreams. To all the career changers out there, General Assembly is here to help.
At GA, our mission is to help career changers like you get the job of their dreams. We provide the resources and tools you need to build a thriving career in tech. Our full-time, flex and part-time immersives offer hands-on projects, expert instructors, and a supportive community of mentors and students.
To kick-start your design career today, take a look at some of the design courses GA has got to offer:
Are you interested in learning more? Then, explore a design workshop today to see which route is best for you.