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Interaction Designer Vs. Visual Designer

To build web and software applications, interaction and visual designers consider elements of the page and how they'll affect a user. In fact, their daily duties, career outlooks, and degree requirements can be very similar, while their main focuses and salaries differ.

Comparing Interaction Designers to Visual Designers

Interaction and visual designers both work on similar digital end-products, but interaction designers develop a product's overall functional experience while visual designers work on the aesthetic experience. Some employers combine the duties under either title. Here, readers will learn about the educational requirements, salaries, job growths, and responsibilities of these professionals.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Interaction Designers Bachelor's Degree $76,367 5% (commercial and industrial designers)
Visual Designers Bachelor's Degree $65,651 5% (graphic designers)

Sources: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Interaction Designers vs. Visual Designers

Interaction designers focus on how the words, images, sounds and videos on a web or software application can be manipulated or viewed by users. Visual designers, on the other hand, focus mostly on how these elements look and whether they suit a company's established brand. Both work with digital platforms to engage web and software application users by effectively mixing technology with user instincts and aesthetic appeal. Whatever they create should meet the business goals of the client, which means submitting design concepts and making changes, if necessary. Visual designers are strictly concerned with the visual aesthetic and design elements of a product, while interaction designers integrate those visuals and other elements into the underlying structure and functionality of the product.

Interaction Designers

Interaction designers build the invisible structure between a web or computer application, such as a word processer, and the user. They are responsible for the user's interactive experience with a given product. First, they may interview users to understand their goals for using the application. In the end, the design they create should make meeting these goals simple.

They may serve as team leaders who ensure the overall design and product experience is coherent and pleasing. They consider the user's perspective at each stage and all possible points of interaction, such as mouse clicks, buttons, warnings, and even error constraints. Job responsibilities of an interaction designer include:

  • Researching current trends in marketing and user needs
  • Establishing a site map or page flow diagram to make navigation easier
  • Helping to set a budget and deadline for the project
  • Developing wireframes for product-user interaction
  • Creating functional prototypes
  • Ideating user-friendly design solutions

Visual Designers

Visual designers create icons, logos, and graphics for digital platforms and apps that reflect and build a client's brand. These designers may also develop style guides for products to keep the brand standardized, allowing customers to identify the company and its products no matter where they appear.

Visual designers generally choose how the pixels on a given page will be divided out between different typographies and images. Headings, body text, animations, and graphics are all laid out by these professionals using programs like Sketch and Photoshop. To help a company meet its goals regarding fiscal growth or customer outreach, visual designers first meet with the client to better understand those goals as well as the scope of the project. They may work with other user interface professionals to ensure appealing design elements are incorporated.

Job responsibilities of a visual designer include:

  • Sketching and brainstorming visual design ideas
  • Gaining any necessary copyright permissions to republish images
  • Resizing and retouching images
  • Balancing text, imagery, and white space
  • Making visual design decisions

Related Careers

Those curious about a career as an interaction designer may want to research a job as a computer programmer since programmers write the code for the applications they work with. Additionally, anyone looking into a position as a visual designer may consider a career as an art director as both make visual design decisions.


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