What is Digital Design?

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It’s well-known that when someone introduces themself as a designer, they could mean a multitude of things. Digital design is no exception, and if you’re considering a career in tech, you’ve probably come across this term a fair amount. So what does digital design actually entail?

1. What is digital design? 

When you hear ‘digital design,’ what comes to your mind? Is it web design? Maybe UX or UI design? Perhaps even graphic design, or something more specific like illustration or animation?

The answer is all of the above.  

Digital design is a base term that combines several different roles and disciplines. It’s the process of mapping out the look and feel of the content that people view and interact with on a digital interface.

Each of the roles that fall within the sphere of digital design involves the core practice of designing what people see on a screen, but the most common digital design roles have a more interactive element to their work. With the face of technology rapidly evolving, digital designers have to continually update their skillsets to ensure the content they design can meet the changing needs of their users. 

2. Check the difference between digital design and graphic design!

Digital design and graphic design often go together but there are some key differences between the two design directions. Graphic designers work with both digital and print media and deliver graphics for various channels such as e-mail marketing or video banners. In contrast, digital designers work exclusively with digital content. 

A more in-depth description is that graphic designers often focus on specific graphics, such as infographics, logos, merchandise, brochures, advertising, and other ‘static’ visual assets. Digital designers, on the other hand, are known for building entire digital experiences with a focus on interactivity—employing more in-depth techniques like wireframing, user testing, and storytelling. 

Despite these differences, the two roles have largely overlapping skillsets. Most digital designers should be able to carry out the tasks of a graphic designer, and a lot of graphic designers consider themselves digital designers. Both roles are expected to have a mastery of the industry-standard tools used to create digital assets—such as Sketch or Adobe XD, and have a basis in fundamental design practices like color theory or typography. Graphic design to digital design is a well-trodden career path and one that’s worth considering as more experiences and products become digitized. 

What the designs special career paths are interesting?

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Web designers

Web designers specialize in the visual design and layout of a website or app—including landing pages, PDFs, etc. This can include some interactive elements, but web designers will usually create a static mockup file for the developers rather than an interactive prototype. 

UX designers

UX (user experience) designers focus specifically on the functionality and usability of a digital product for the end customer. During the product design process, UX designers advocate for the user at every stage—conducting regular user testing to ensure they’re designing a product that’s both accessible and enjoyable for the user to interact with. Their output includes wireframes, prototypes, and user flows. 

UI designers

UI (user interface) designers are concerned with the look and feel of a digital product, focusing on an interface’s visual elements. They often work closely with the UX designer, building on the foundations they’ve laid to bring the digital interface to life with color, typography, and shapes. To ensure consistency across the product, they also often create visual style guides and UI pattern libraries.

Product designers

Product designers go beyond user experience and focus more on the business and brand, reflecting on how the digital product should work, what it will cost, and the broader scope of the product within the company’s context. Product designers are often expected to answer the questions that the UX designer will come up with during the user testing phase. 

Interaction designers 

Interaction designers focus on the points of interaction between the users and the product—and the effect of those interactions. Interaction design aims to create products that enable the user to achieve their objectives in the best way possible. Interaction designers often use things like sound or animation to enhance the digital experience. 

It’s also worth noting that digital designer is a role commonly listed on job boards. Depending on the nature of the company, a digital design role will usually involve any combination of the tasks and responsibilities mentioned above. 

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

3. How do I become a digital designer?

Digital designers are in high demand, and as we’ve seen, there are a number of roads you can go down. It all depends on what excites you, and what your transferable skills are.

To give you an idea of what you need to learn, the basic digital design skills and tools include:

Luckily, the internet is inundated with short courses, blog posts, and tutorials that will give you a core understanding of these tools and techniques. Just start investigating and it will be clear if you want to work in this field on a long perspective.

Based on information from Payscale and Glassdoor, the average salary for digital designers in the United States is $54,577. Based on the same sources, the average salary for UI and UX designers, respectively, is $76,115 and $85,000. 

Again, this is just a snapshot of average salaries.