Why UX Designers Should Learn Visual Design

If you've been avoiding visual design, you may be missing out
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Visual design is a skill that some UX designers may not consider important enough to learn because they’re afraid that they might not be great at visual design or they simply don’t want to take the time to learn a new skill.

Founder and CEO of Path Unbound, Stella Guan, had the chance to talk with one of her previous students, Oren Dayan, who is a UX designer. Dayan believes that learning about visual design can be a great asset for UX designers, even if they just dabble in it.

He transitioned into UX designing after working as a project manager and business analyst. 

While working as a project manager, Dayan and other colleagues wanted a way to standardize the reporting of project statuses and risks in an application format. 

However, no progress was made until he created a mockup for the idea in Microsoft Excel. From this experience, he realized the importance of visuals to solve problems. 

He also utilized PowerPoint to create mockups for clients and developers, which improved communication. Dayan’s company started an in-house UX team and he decided to become a part of it.

Visual Design Makes It Easier To Be Good Partners To Developers

When asked about the importance of visual design for UX designers, Dayan responded that good UX designers need to be able to answer specific questions about different elements of a product (such as margins, spacing and typography) to work well with their development team or to sell their work to clients. 

Learning about visual design can help close the gap between designers and developers or clients. He also commented that it’s good to be at least interested in visual design and not necessarily be highly trained in it.

Don’t Be Afraid of It Before Trying It Out

Advice that Dayan would give to UX designers who are hesitant on learning visual design is to not be afraid to be imperfect and that the “dabbling” may need to happen outside of the work environment. 

For Dayan, this meant taking Guan’s visual design class. He added that designers can also find something that appeals to them within the world of visual design and to focus on that./media/6764627f51d550544cf83d31329f37b5Interview with Oren Dayan in podcast format

Going Beyond “Making Things Look Pretty”

Throughout the interview, Dayan mentioned his frustrations about people viewing UX designers as just “creators of pretty pictures” when their job includes so much more than making stunning visuals. From his experiences, UX designers aren’t seen as trusted problem solvers. 

He believes that trusting UX designers to solve users’ problems can save money and time down the line for businesses.

As a UX designer, Dayan answered that showing clear thinking around problem solving was the most important element in a portfolio and that this is valued more than aesthetics in enterprise design. This can include reductions in error rate, time on tasks, and how designers can change their thinking in different situations.

Dayan’s journey from being a project manager to a UX designer helped him realize the importance of visual design, despite not specializing in it. UX designers are encouraged to learn about visual design at their own pace, and to not be afraid to fail and be messy while doing so. 

The smallest bit of visual design knowledge can help them work well with their development team and clients in the future.

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