The Complete Guide to Changing Careers from Graphic Design to UX Design


So you’re a graphic designer who wants to switch careers to become a UX/UI designer? Perhaps you’ve heard that UI/UX designers make a lot of money. Well, that’s a valid reason. If you do a Google search for the key phrase “How to transition from a graphics designer to a UI/UX expert,” I’m sure tons of results will pop up. This post is particular to my own journey and the things that helped my transition process. If you read my resume, you will get an idea of my career journey so far.

I started of as a graphics designer and rose to the position of a brand manager and have worked across industries, from consumer goods to tech. Without much ado, let get into business.

As a graphics designer, I presume you have a sound knowledge of modern graphics design tools, like Photoshop and Illustrator. I actually started my design journey with Corel 8 and gradually transitioned to Adobe products when I got my first Mac laptop. As a graphics designer that understands the principles of design, mastering the needed UI design tool will definitely not be a problem.

My first approach was to find the best UI design tool on demand, which is Figma. I bought a course on Udemy to walk me through the process of using it and watched a couple of videos on YouTube.

After a few practice and completing some sample UI projects, using Figma became a second nature to me. I even started using Figma to design my fliers and infographics and I love it. It offers so many flexibilities that you ordinarily can’t get with other design software’s and it is backed by many amazing communities.  But does using Figma alone make UI/UX expert? Hello no. Its just a tiny piece of the pie.

Graphic designers, brand designers, visual designers, UI/UX designers, and product designers all share a common goal: to create visually appealing products that are usable. There are, however, a number of subtle differences that differentiate the overall skill set and design approach.

A graphic designer is responsible for creating the overall layout and production design for a variety of applications, including advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

A user experience designer is responsible for the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, which includes branding, design, usability, and functionality. A graphic designer’s primary goal is to create beautiful aesthetics, whereas a UX designer’s primary goal is to solve problems for users and provide a pleasant experience.

The greatest advantage for graphic designers who want to work in UX design is the ability to make things look good. Many graphic design principles can be applied to UX, including the use of the same software. Both graphic and UX designers can think creatively and solve problems through design.

Usually, when designers make the switch to UX or UI, they typically strive for pixel perfection in their work. That shouldn’t be the case because UX design is primarily concerned with users. Every element in UX must serve a purpose, and that purpose must be supported by research, where as with graphics designers, they just add elements for aesthetics and look.

Aesthetic shouldn’t be the only consideration, If people don’t like using the product, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is. This is referred to as a Bad User Experience.

You may have a strong sense of visual balance, white space, color, and typographic hierarchy as a graphics designer, but you may not know as much about components, states, atomic design, information architecture, or user flows that are demanded for UX/UI design. As a result, there are some knowledge gaps that must be filled. Graphic designers, on the other hand, are more likely to fall into an artistic mode of thinking than a scientific one.

I’m not trying to criticize you for being artistic, but I want to let you know that in order to make that switch, you need to focus more on the usability of the product you are designing. I’m here to tell you that you can still have that beautiful design that is usable and loved by the user. Your goal now is to learn the UX side of things. UX and UI are married together. In order to have a good UI design, you need to have good UX skills.

As a UI/UX designer, you must always consider user actions, reactions, behaviors, and motivations, as well as what the user is doing and what the system should do in response, and how all of this can be communicated most effectively through various digital mediums.

Starting today, begin to pay attention to what you do, think, and see when you download and use an app or piece of software in order to better understand UI/UX design. This is because the ability to optimize the user’s experience is a critical component of UX design. User experience (UX) designers tend to focus on three primary factors: usability, visual appeal, and the overall experience.

Up until now, I have talked about making the product useable for the user. You also need to know that the user isn’t the only consideration in UX design. It is equally important to meet the product’s business goals and align those goals with those of the user. User experience design is all about connecting business goals with user needs through a series of research, testing, and refinement processes.

It’s important to keep in mind that while graphic designers and UX designers share a number of skills, the two professions have very different end goals and responsibilities.

This is a step that most designers overlook. Understanding how to use a good prototyping tool is a must-have skill. Most designers skip this step and move straight to UI design. This approach is flawed, mostly because prototyping is essential to the design process and, as listed below

  • Visualization—UX designers use prototypes to show stakeholders how the final product will look and function.
  • Feedback—Prototypes elicit feedback from team members as well as user test groups.

Focus on Developing a Portfolio of Your Work

If an employer is looking to hire a UX designer, they will look at the applicant’s relevant professional experience and their design portfolio. You become a UX designer by demonstrating your ability to design user experiences. The section of your portfolio that includes information about your projects is the most important.


Your next step is to focus on networking after you’ve gained practical UX design skills and created your UX portfolio.

Join Communities

Join your local UX community. Find local “hackathons.” Attending one of these events allows you to practice UX design skills and work on a project in a group. Join local UX groups and start contributing. You’ll quickly build a fantastic peer network. Attending design conferences can help you meet potential employers and expand your professional network. If you can, start a UI/UX blog, just like this one. Be active on Twitter by following designers you admire 

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Making this transition is not hard. You just need to fill the knowledge gap. As a Graphic designer you already speak the language of design; you just need to brush up your skills to include those that are peculiar to UX design.

Product Designer and Web 3.0 Educator

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