User Experience

How Graphic Designers Can Smoothly Switch to UX Design

Published March 21, 2018 ⚡ Updated on October 2, 2023 by Olivia Ryan
Header Image Blog post: How Graphic Designers Can Smoothly Switch to UX Design

Graphic design is the closest link between the public eye and design itself. This makes it one of the hottest careers at the moment, with a myriad of job opportunities. Out of those job opportunities, the most promising and highly paid design path is user experience or UX design, with a median salary of $100,000 per year for experienced designers.

Working on the exterior of the design and the actual user experience is different, but the approaches are not so difficult to master if you have been a graphic designer. And since UX design is far more rewarding than traditional graphic design, it is very clear that you want to transfer and use your skills to improve user experience.

‘’The demand of UX design professionals is huge and as a result, the opportunities graphic designers have in the field are definitely worth the move. If you are considering transferring your skills to this similar, yet more rewarding profession, all it takes is some courage.’’ – explains Derek Jameson, a graphic design expert at

Defining UX Design

The job of a UX designer is to create a product or service that results in good user experience. The trick in achieving this is to have a strong knowledge of the kinds of problems and needs customers have, and ways to solve these needs or problems. Once a designer establishes this, they can create a solution the target users will want.

Generally speaking, a UX designer needs to focus on three essential factors: look, usability and feel of the product.


The look or appearance of a product is all about creating visual appear that fits the values of the users and captures the idea they have for a solution of their problem. In other words, the designer needs to ensure that the product looks good, but also establishes credibility with the user.


When you create a product that is not really usable, the user experience cannot be good. A UX designer aims to create a product that is specifically tailored to provide functionality that meets the needs of the users.


Users should be happy to use the product created by the designer. On top of being functional, a product must provide pleasurable experience.

UX Design vs. Graphic Design

The similarities between the two are numerous and widely recognized, but before you even begin your transfer to a UX designer, you must learn the differences. Here are the key differences between the two:

Graphic Design is Pixel-Focused

Graphic designers focus on making the colors and kerning fit the brand guidelines, and use pixel perfection to achieve this. UX designers focus on the user, so their focus is on the product and the customer’s needs. They achieve this by observing and talking to users, as well as testing the products.

UX Design Has Iterative Problem Solving Approach

Unlike graphic design, UX design starts by identifying a problem through research. Only then does a UX designer continue with a solution to solve such problem.

Once the product is first launched, the job of a graphic designer ceases. UX designers need to keep constant track of the user experience, and use their research for continuous improvements.

UX Design is Multi-Disciplinary

Graphic design is more of a specialized discipline, meaning that designers use a set of skills required to create the product. UX design is multi-disciplinary, in the sense that these designers base their work on various disciplines (interaction design, human psychology, user research techniques).

Steps You Must Take to Switch to UX Design

Finally, we came to the part where we describe the methods that should be used to switch from graphic to UX design. Follow this guide carefully in your journey to better income and more fulfilling position:

Invest Effort in Learning the UX Skills

Graphic design and UX design are very similar, but one must possess specific skills for the discipline in order to be able to produce in it. If you want to transition into a new UX design career, it is essential to learn the UX skills.

As we said, UX design is multi-disciplinary, which means that you must develop your knowledge in visual design, human psychology, interaction design, user research techniques, and information architecture. Without this knowledge, succeeding as a UX designer is impossible.

If you already possess graphic design skills, the process should be much easier. Focus on the strengths and skills you possess, and transfer these into the new role you are taking. After all, your skills to create an amazing design will be very beneficial to creating a product that users will feel good about.

Build a UX Portfolio

Employers will hardly notice your application unless you have a design portfolio. An amazing portfolio improves your chances of getting hired even more than relevant professional experience does. So, your first step in transferring to UX design is to build a great UX portfolio, while working on your skills and professional experience.

Have you heard of the Daily UI Challenge? Use this opportunity to increase the designs in your portfolio and create a social presence. You can also participate in non-profit projects and volunteer while learning from experience UX designers.

Don’t Be So Enthusiastic about Pixels

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the job of a graphic designer is the pixel-perfect designing. You will probably find yourself preoccupied with the perfect colors and kerning, following all those guidelines necessary for good graphic design.

Avoid starting your projects with visual designs – start with a research of the user experience instead. Click To Tweet

If you decided to change careers, replace this priority with a user-focused design. Avoid starting your projects with visual designs – start with a research of the user experience instead.

Work on Your Research Skills

Since you must change your pixel-perfect focus to one that puts users on a pedestal, you should learn how to actually research the users in order to create the perfect product. The job of a UX designer starts and ends with research. Seeing that this is the most important part of the design process, try to invest as much time as possible on learning how to conduct user research.

A great way to keep track of your progress is to show others what you have done and ask for feedback.

Build Your Network

The faster you create your portfolio and build up your UX design skills, the faster you can start building your network. Networking is key for any designer, including a UX designer. The best opportunities will arise when others in the field recommend you, or you create an excellent online presence.

Some of the most popular places for networking is, of course, LinkedIn. In addition, you can join the local groups of fellow UX designers, and build relationships with other designers. This could eventually result in amazing job opportunities, if you are persistent enough.


The gap between graphic design and UX design is existent, but it is far from insurmountable. If you already possess experience and skills in graphic design, you can use these as an additional advantage in your journey towards optimized user experience.

About author

Olivia is a passionate blogger who writes on topics of digital marketing, career, and self-development. She constantly tries to learn something new and share this experience on various websites. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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