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Digital transformation has proliferated the number of screens we use daily. There are emerging opportunities for designers across the digital landscape, where the lines between various design disciplines are often blurred. Novices to the discipline, may that be students early in their career or professionals looking to upskill, are often confused between UI/UX design and graphic design. 



Both disciplines involve visual elements and creative thinking, but they have distinct focus areas, skills, and career trajectories. If you are looking for a career in design, then are no easy answer or a single career path. In this blog, we’ll look at the two disciplines, where they diverge, some potential career choices, and recommendations.



What’s UI/UX Design?

Any digital touchpoint requires users to navigate interfaces that determine their experience. The process of designing these interfaces needs thorough research and experimentation with user behaviour and understanding of their journeys online. User-experience (UX) design concentrates on designing this experience by building wireframes, information architectures, interaction points, and applications. UX for any digital product or service needs to be intuitive, engaging, user-friendly, accessible, and satisfying for it to be successful.



User-interface (UI) design deals with the more visual elements of creating the user experience. It will involve elements such as layout, typography, colour, and iconography. It combines graphics, aesthetics, branding, device compatibility, readability, and other interactive elements. UI design creates “the look and feel of a website or application’s user interface.”

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.” The primary aim of graphic design is to communicate effectively anything that the artist(s) want to say. They are used for advertising, marketing, publications, illustrations, packaging, art installations, and more.



Designers use graphics such as visual hierarchy, typography, pictures, videos, page layout, and other media “to meet users’ specific needs and focus on the logic of displaying elements in interactive designs to optimize the user experience.” It is a much broader field of design that includes designing on digital, physical or hybrid platforms. It is the creation of visual content for any medium – print, digital, canvas, or environmental media.

Difference between UI/UX Design and Graphic Design

Much of UI/UX design needs an understanding of basic graphic design elements such as colour, contrast, brightness, mix, and other elements of communication design. But they both serve different purposes, even if they inform and influence each other.

Differences Between UI/UX Design and Graphic Design

CharacteristicUI/UX DesignGraphic Design
FocusUser experience and navigation across digital interfacesVisual communication through graphic elements and aesthetics
GoalTo improve usability, functionality, and time spentTo convey messages and evoke emotions
ScopeDigital products and services with interfaces for users to engage with actively.

Eg: websites, mobile apps, software interfaces and others
Any media or canvas for communication with the user engagement is less tactile and more visual

Eg: print advertising, newspapers, digital media, TV, and other multimedia
Skillset NeededUser research, data and analytics, software architecture, interaction design, and prototypingAesthetics, typography, colour theory, layout, and image manipulation
DeliverablesWebsite designs, wireframes, mock-ups, interactive prototypes, user flows, and usability testingLogos, branding materials, advertisements, publications, videos, and packaging
ToolsEg: Sketch, Adobe XD, FigmaEg: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign
MindsetExperimental, data-oriented, and user-focused, with knack for problem-solvingCreative, conceptual and detail-oriented, with a focus on visual aesthetics and brand identity
Career PathsUser experience designer, interaction designer, product designer, UX researcherGraphic designer, art director, creative director, brand designer

Careers

There is a growing convergence between these two disciplines. As digital transformation upends every industry, digital interfaces have become the primary channel of communication. In this complex landscape, there is a need for designers who can seamlessly marry UI/UX and Graphic design. Designs are not data-tested and user-journeys experimented with different aesthetics.



This means there is a need for dual-specialised designers proficient in the tools and technologies of both UI/UX and communication design. At ATLAS Edge, there is a recognition of this industry need and thus, they have come up with the Executive Program in UI/UX and Digital Design.



It is a hybrid program, spread across 11 months, that combines elements of both disciplines. It aims to equip designers with well-rounded skill sets that allow them to thrive in the ever-evolving design industry. Shepherded by leading academics, designers, and industry leaders, the program will give hands-on training in leading tools such as Figma, Uizard, and Adobe Suite.



The goal of the program is to nurture full-stack designers who can work with cross-functional teams, including developers, product leaders, marketing teams, and operations. There is an emphasis on multi-media aesthetics that will help participants develop a broad sensibility and understanding of design principles, visual imagery, and user behaviour.

What’s best for beginners?

Beginners should look at hybrid courses to help them gain a diverse toolkit of design principles, software proficiency, and problem-solving skills. The corporate needs today are often multi-disciplinary, and UI/UX and Graphic design overlap and complement each other. Tech companies, start-ups, product-based companies, and digital-first industries are looking for talent who can straddle both UI/UX and Graphic design seamlessly.



The hybrid format equips beginners with diverse skill sets that span both disciplines and prepare them better to tackle the multi-faceted challenges of modern design projects, across all channels such as digital interfaces, print materials, or integrated marketing campaigns. Programs like the ATLAS Edge’s UI/UX will take beginners through the latest developments in the discipline and make them industry-ready. As the design industry evolves, embracing the synergy between UI/UX and digital design will pave the way for innovation and creativity in the practice.

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