Should web designers know UX design?

The dilemma of whether web designers should have an understanding of User Experience design is never ending. You might think, well what is the difference? Or, there are web designers and there are UX designers – why would I need to know both? Well, actually, there are many reasons why it would be very handy to know both. But firstly, let’s see what the differences between these two concepts are.

First of all, web designers are visual, art influenced and creative. They have a comprehensive understanding of graphic design, responsive design, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, WordPress and Web Server Management. Web designers take care of aligning the interface with the content that is aesthetically pleasing and is easy to understand, including brand colours, fonts and identity.

Whereas UX designers are conceptual, philosophical and physiological. They must know about the flow that goes from page to page, wireframes, icons and have the understanding of how users think and feel about the product. UX designers have to handle visual design, prototyping, usability testing and data analysis. Their major responsibility is to satisfy user’s goals and expectations when interacting with the product.

So, should designers know both? Yes! They don’t have to, of course, but it is a massive advantage for their career if they do. How can you design anything if you don’t know the basic principles of how the platform works? All website designers must understand UX fundamentals at least. Web design is a solid foundation for UX design but at the same time UX trends influence web design massively, so every designer should be aware of how to use them if they hope to stay competitive.

So, what are the fundamental steps to learn and improve your UX design skills?

  1. Read fundamental books about UX design such as:
    1. “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman
    2. “Designing for Interaction” by Dan Saffer
    3. “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People” by Susan Weinschenk
    4. “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” by Steve Krug
    5. “About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design” by Alan Cooper.
  2. After reading the books, you need to get more educated. It does not mean that you need to go to university to get a degree to become a UX designer, but you need to focus on some particular areas. They are: general design approaches, basic theory of design, information architecture and design patterns.
  3. Do some research, observe and analyse the work of UX designers. Train your eye to see the difference between good and bad design, identify strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Dedicate some time for developing necessary UX skills and stay patient. The good thing is that many of the skills you’ve gained as a web designer will be relevant for a UX designer too.
  5. Master your prototyping skills by sketching out ideas with pen and paper. Afterwards, you can move to using software such as Sketch or Adobe XD.
  6. Find someone who has experience in UX design and would be happy to spend some time with you giving advice, feedback and answering your questions.
  7. Seek to get some real experience so you can use the theory practically, see what you need to improve and never stop learning.
  8. Whatever you are creating, make it clean, simple and beautiful. Beauty is usability. Make it stand out.
  9. See yourself as a user and look at your own work from the side. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
  10. When you have the knowlstudio of the basics and the crucial understanding of how it all works, dig deeper and analyse the tiniest details.

Even if you are not looking for a career change, learning UX is another great skill every digital designer should have. You can include it in your everyday work, look at designs from a different perspective and improve people’s lives usability and experience wise.

All in all, both web and UX designers work hand in hand and together they can create a great product. Knowing more will make your own life easier, so grab those books and get started!

by Austeja