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AI is taking over Graphic design; Is it time to learn UX design?

The advent of AI (artificial intelligence) in technology has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it has reduced complexity and created seamless solutions for users. A curse, because AI threatens the relevance of human workers in the tech industry. With each AI innovation, comes the question. If AI can do this, why do we need human workers? Now, the scare is presently at the doorstep of graphic designers.

Now, I don’t mean to scare you. It is the reality. Research revealed a 270% increase in the number of businesses that have adopted AI for their business as a substitute for human designers. This figure is not only alarming, but it is also worrisome.

Recently, a friend of mine needed a logo for something he was doing. The normal thing was to call a graphic designer to do the job, but he just decided to check online for samples. The result was shocking. If you want to be shocked like I was at that time. Search for logo templates on Google. You will be amazed at the number of software that helps you create logos from scratch even if you had no idea about graphic design.

You can be a complete novice yet create a logo in a few minutes. And this is not just for logos. I have also created a graphic image of an astronaut in space. I created this image within a few seconds.

An AI created astronaut
Image created by an AI image maker.

The possibilities in AI, as beautiful as they are, are starting to threaten job security for many, and this is affecting graphic designers.

With the advent of AI, there is no telling what would happen to the graphic design industry. We have watched how some jobs ceased to exist because they were taken over by better technologies. Are we getting to the end of graphic design as a career also? Maybe not very quickly, but the reality is that AI is taking over the graphic design industry. What can graphic designers do to save their careers? We must first examine if graphic designers are still relevant in this age of artificial intelligence (AI).

Are graphic designers still relevant today?

question mark
Are graphic designers still relevant today?

Before answering this question, it is important to check some facts about the performance of human graphic designers in contrast to AI designs, then we can conclude about the relevance of graphic designers today.

Recently, there was a test between human designers and two AI design software, Vinci and Luban, and it involved creating a poster with specified product images and text. The results are what you have below.

a set of designs executed by a human and an AI
AI design vs human design

Respondents voted for the designs they love without any prior information about which one was AI or human design. The results? The human designs got almost the same rating as the AI design, which implies that people were not able to tell the difference between the two.

This calls for the question, if people cannot distinguish between human graphic design and an AI design, is there still need for graphic designers today?

Well, AI is still trying to understand the context of what customers want. AI designs are only designs based on the words that are fed into the software, but sometimes words written do not properly express the context of what customers want.

So, graphic design is not totally dead, but with the advent of AI, it is glaring that graphic designers must change their approach to design. The approach to design must include human elements that AI is yet to fully grasp if graphic designers still want to retain their jobs in the coming years. Graphic design must include designing based on users’ pain points, contextualizing users’ problems and providing solutions that users can relate to.

Can graphic designers stand the heat of AI?

pencil, screens, light bulbs
What next for graphic designers

Artificial intelligence is giving graphic designers some heat, because of its increasing adoption. The only way graphic designers can withstand this heat is to make sure they are creating empathetic designs that resonate with users’ pain points and emotions. This would give them an edge over AI, because there is a limit to how AI can comprehend human emotions. Thus, graphic designers must see beyond creating pixels, their designs must be able to interpret customers’ intent perfectly, such that users can relate with the designs, in a human way.

To achieve this, graphic designers need to learn user experience (UX) design to improve the way they do their design. It is too much of a risk to remain a graphic designer without understanding how to design for users’ experience in this age of artificial intelligence. If graphic designers are going to compete with AI successfully, then they must adopt practices that focus on the user rather than pixels.

Why graphic designers should learn UX design

A wireframe in UX design
Why you should learn UX design

Here are some reasons why graphic designers need to learn UX design,

  1. Improvement in design process

The UX design process is more of a problem-solving process than it is about creating visually appealing aesthetic design for users. It is an iterative process that seeks to understand users’ problems and create design solutions to solve those problems.

The UX design process starts with problem discovery. This is where it outsmarts an AI. AI will only spit out the information you entered into it. It cannot take the place of discovering human pain points and emotions through quality conversations with users.

UX design is based on a design thinking process. The design thinking process is a nonlinear iterative process that is based on empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping and testing. It would be hard for an AI to follow these processes except for prototyping and testing. So, the UX design process gives room for the human connection with design. The empathy stage sets the tone for the design. It is the ability to connect with users’ emotions and take their place as you design. Thus, learning UX design will change your mind set on how you approach design problems.

Also, there are notable differences between the prototyping stage of graphic design and that of UX design. The four phrases “create, test, learn, iterate” are the best way to sum up the prototyping stage of the UX design process. This technique is incorporated into the design process to assist graphic designers in testing their designs and making adjustments in response to user feedback.

2. UX Knowledge helps you create functional design

Graphic design and UX design are different in their end. UX designers create outcomes as solutions, whereas graphic designers produce aesthetic appeal. AI designs also create good visuals, but the functionality is usually rigid, it leaves little room for flexibility, since it is designed based on a set of rules fed into the AI software.

It is possible to design a product with excellent visual appeal yet poor user experience. An example of good graphic design with poor user experience is when a mobile app is visually appealing yet difficult to use. The software is solid UX with poor graphic design if it functions well but looks ugly. Graphic designers may develop design solutions that look fantastic and function well by understanding UX design principles.

The idea that good usability takes priority over aesthetics is among the most widespread fallacies regarding UX design. Contrarily, attractive designs can also function better. The entire user experience of a product can be enhanced by good design since it makes a good first impression and demonstrates that the person who created it cares. Because of this, having strong visual design and UX design abilities aid designers in producing both pixel-perfect and user-focused designs simultaneously.

3. UX design helps you become multi-disciplinary

Graphic design requires that you have specialized skills for what you are designing. UX design also requires specialized skills, but it incorporates many diverse skills and stands at the intersection of many different fields.

In order to develop the best answers to a user’s problems, UX designers need to have a thorough understanding of human psychology, interface design, information architecture, user research methods, and many other fields.

For graphic designers, learning UX design offers the chance to comprehend a variety of design-related concepts and explore big-picture thinking.

4. Learning UX enhances your communication skills

UX design involves dealing with different people and moving away from working alone for a significant portion of the time. Collaboration between users, team members, and stakeholders is the key to great designs. Excellent teamwork and communication skills are essential for the UX designer position.

An intimate working relationship with practically everyone engaged in the product’s creation is necessary for a designer, whether they are employed by a startup or a major organization. Your ability to communicate effectively, honestly, and clearly with individuals of all knowledge and experience levels will improve as a result of engaging in UX design practice.

Now, after learning UX design, you can start collaborating with UX designers on UX projects. The skills you have gained coupled with your graphic design skills will come in handy and help you maintain your relevance as a designer. This lets you break free from the threats of AI to graphic designers.

How to leverage your graphic design skills for UX projects

Design skills are important in UX design
Your graphic design skills are useful in UX design

As a graphic designer, you already have an eye for creating visually appealing designs. This can come in handy when working with UX designers. Your creativity gives you the opportunity to help UX designers interpret their functionalities with beautiful aesthetics.

Also, your knowledge of design elements like color, shapes, lines, texture would be of great help to the user interface design of UX projects.

Tips on how to switch from graphic design to UX design

Beyond learning UX design to get better as a graphic designer, you can consider switching to UX design as a career.

Here are some steps to help you switch to UX design successfully.

1. Learn UX skills

You can start preparing to switch to UX design by setting out time to learn UX design skills. You must not assume that you can easily transition to UX design without any skill acquisition. They are both design methods, but they have some differences in their approach. While producing outstanding graphics in graphic design requires a certain set of specialized abilities, UX design requires multiple skills, because it is a multidisciplinary field.

In order to develop the best solutions to user problems, designers working in the field of user experience (UX) must constantly learn about human psychology, graphic design, interaction design, information architecture, and user research methods.

2. Learn how to conduct research

Every UX project starts with research. As I said earlier, it takes a good understanding of the users’ problems before you start creating solutions to those problems. Thus, if you want to switch to UX design, you need to learn how to draft a research plan. You need to know when to conduct research, and how to have quality conversations that create an avenue for the respondents to tell you their pain points. These interview conversations give direction to the project. You are able to situate the design solutions correctly within context.

3. Learn how to use UX design tools

For any UX designer, understanding how to use an effective prototyping tool is crucial. When asked what qualities they value in UX designers, 42% of hiring managers cited “knowledge of UX tools” as the most crucial qualification. Although generating online and app designs may already be commonplace for graphic designers, doing so without a prototyping tool has one significant drawback: such designs remain static.

Utilizing the tools that allow for the creation of interactive prototypes is crucial while creating an interactive experience. Although there are many specific UX tools, there is overlap between the tool sets of the two disciplines, which is good news for graphic designers who want to transition to UX.

4. Start practicing with UX projects

After self-learning or learning from a Bootcamp it is important that you start practicing on your own with real live projects. Starting a side project will help you get experience, which is the best way to master a skill. You can put UX design into practice in the following ways:

You can take part in a UX design challenge and add your favorites to your portfolio if you don’t currently have any projects where you can use your UX knowledge.

You can also create designs from scratch. For instance, you may redesign current websites or mobile applications. Find the things in a daily-used app that you feel can be made better. Consider how you could improve it. The next step is to outline the solution, draw it, mock it up, and attempt to assemble a prototype to demonstrate your concept.

5. Networking

After you’ve produced your UX portfolio and honed your practical UX design talents, you should concentrate on networking. As Beth Koloski properly pointed out, breaking in is difficult if you don’t know anyone.

Since the best opportunities are frequently discovered when someone already working in the field suggests you for a position, networking is crucial for UX designers. As soon as you can, start bridging the gap by establishing new connections. These pointers will help you begin networking.

How to have a successful career as a designer

A successful career is not built in one day. You build it over time. You can be successful every day, by learning, improving and taking on daunting challenges, but an overall successful career is a combination of many things, your seeming failures included.

Here are some ways to work towards success in your design career

1. Don’t stop learning

Never reach a stage where you think you know it all, and don’t need to learn again. That is a terrible place to be. Right before our eyes, we are seeing the emergence of improved technologies like artificial intelligence. To stop learning is to leave the continuity of your career to chance.

2. Always strive for excellence

Don’t settle for mediocrity. Always strive to present an excellent work. Don’t do it because you just want to get it over and done with. Every job is an important part of your career. Take it seriously.

3. Network with others in your field

No one knows it all. Always network with others in your field and share your work with them. Let them access it and tell you where you are wrong. The corrections help you get better as a designer.

4. Keep your passion fresh

At some point in your career, you might feel overwhelmed. At such times, you should look for things that will help you keep your passion for the work. Once passion is lost, the job is at risk also.

Final thoughts

The emergence of AI poses a threat to many tech workers, but AI is still learning to create contextualized designs that create human emotion that users need. This is where UX design wins. UX design teaches you how to take the place of the user in your design, and how to be empathetic towards users, and this is what makes the difference in design. So, if you feel that your graphic design job is threatened by AI, then you should learn UX design to have an edge.

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