The Role of Visual Design in UX
By Nicholas Iwuc | Monday, February 3, 2014
Visual design has the potential to make or break a user experience. The reason most people believe graphic designers exist is to make an interface look pretty. While this is an important part of the process, most people don’t realize that visual cues are designed with the end user in mind.
When you begin the artistic phase of your project, there are three important elements to consider:
1. Design for Your Target Audience
It’s important to know who will be interacting with your interface. This knowledge will help immensely with dictating the type of creative style to go with. If your audience is comprised of young professionals, a nice clean flat design will suffice. Alternatively, if your audience is comprised of children, a more cartoonish art form might be better.
Choosing the right art direction is crucial when attempting to appeal to your audience. Good visuals can intuitively direct users how to use the features of well-designed interface. The alternative lowers the probability someone will want to engage with that design again.
2. Know the Purpose of the Design
Knowing the purpose of the design when creating functions within an interface will define your artistic direction even more. When you know what kind of action a button will perform, you can reflect that purpose within the visual design. It’s also important to learn about the context of interface elements. An order submission process that is well suited for a small business storefront may confuse and turn off users who wish to purchase an eBook. To avoid this from occurring, an important aspect of designing for UX is to ensure that a task analysis is conducted first. This process will define the hierarchy and layout of interface elements prior to beginning work on the visual component of a user interface. With this knowledge, you can cater to the functional design with appropriate visuals.
3. Consistency is Key
Consistency is important for helping individuals navigate any user interface efficiently. Each function should be visually defined and represent uniformity across the board. Users should intuitively know at a glance, what each design element represents and its functional attributes.. Consistent branding for the device is equally important. The color scheme and styles you express should create a sense of familiarity, so the user will have an ease with the interface and instinctively understand how best to use the device, quickly.
These are three basic guidelines to consider when you begin to design visuals. The most important thing to remember is to make it all about them – design for your audience and not for yourself. This is especially true when working on visuals for a project that holds no interest for you. When you seek first to understand your audience, your best work is more easily understood and as a visual designer, achieving the best results and knowing you created something someone wants to use is the point and the role of a good visual designer.