What Does a Visual Designer Do?

G. Wiesen

Though the specific tasks needed of a visual designer may vary between projects, in general he or she is largely responsible for the design of a webpage or user interface (UI). This responsibility often manifests in tasks that involve the application of various concepts within graphic design, such as color theory, scale, and use of space, to the creation of UIs and websites. This type of designer often works with programmers and other developers on a particular project to ensure a comprehensive vision is utilized. This work is often done at the beginning of a project, though visual design principles can also be applied to an existing product.

Visual designers typically apply graphic design principles to websites.
Visual designers typically apply graphic design principles to websites.

A visual designer typically works either directly for a particular company or as a freelance worker or consultant hired on from another company. The primary task of such a designer is often the application of graphic design concepts to the layout of a website or a product’s UI. Some products may utilize multiple professionals with different strengths to develop a UI, such as an interactive designer and a visual one. This is not always the case, however, and it is possible that visual design may take precedence and a single designer could complete an entire project alone.

A visual designer is typically familiar with color theory.
A visual designer is typically familiar with color theory.

Depending on the nature of a project, a visual designer may start from scratch on designing a website or UI or revise the work already done by someone else. In general, however, the designer applies principles of graphic design to the page layout or UI. A visual designer may, for example, utilize color theory to create a UI that is more intuitive. This can be seen through the associations of certain colors with different concepts or emotional response. Since the color red is often used to denote warnings or stop signs while driving in many countries, red is often used on exit buttons for programs or to indicate that a particular function may have negative consequences.

Similar concepts in graphic design can be used by a visual designer, such as the use of positive and negative space on a page. The basic layout of the Google® homepage, for example, is a clear example of the use of negative space to make the few elements on the page stand out more starkly. On the other hand, the homepage for Bing® clearly demonstrates how that space can be filled in with imagery that supports the primary function of the page itself. A visual designer creates this type of layout through an understanding of how people view images and the way in which different design elements can enhance the user experience.

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