What Is a Visual Designer? (+ How to Become One in 5 Steps)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about a visual designer's role and career path with this article.

[Featured Image] A visual designer looks over sketches and drawings of a website or application design.

What is visual design?

Visual design focuses on enhancing the aesthetic and usability of a digital product. It is the strategic implementation of images, colours, fonts, and layouts. Although many visual design elements deal with a product's look, the product's feel is equally important. Visual design aims to create an interface that provides users with the optimal experience. 

Visual design vs. graphic design

Visual design and graphic design have many similarities. However, there are some critical distinctions between visual designers and graphic designers. First, graphic design may encompass print publications and other non-digital media forms. Visual design typically refers to web-based and digital product enhancement. The goal of graphic design is to communicate a specific idea or message. In contrast, visual designers are responsible for shaping the larger brand image. 

Visual design vs UI design

User interface (UI) design creates an application’s visual elements. It has two primary focus areas—interaction design (how elements are organised in an interface) and visual design. UI designers focus on creating a seamless, visually pleasing user experience. Conversely, the primary goal for visual designers is to effectively demonstrate the image a brand wants to convey to its consumers through its digital designs. 

What is a visual designer?

Visual designers work in many different industries across various platforms. Companies or organisations may hire them to design websites, games, movies, and other digital projects. Accordingly, certain specialisations require knowledge of a specific business sector. The following section is a sample job description for a visual designer role. 

Visual designer job description

  • Work with a brand’s guidelines to establish the look and feel of their digital interfaces.

  • Source image and video assets.

  • Collaborate with marketing, development, information technology (IT), and operations teams.

  • Create and manage data visualisation, production assets, interaction models, mockups, and more. 

  • Manage multiple projects and strategise deadlines.

  • Design logos, infographics, and icons.

Visual designer salary

The average annual salary for a visual designer in India is ₹3,65,947 [1]. Several factors can influence the salary of a visual designer, including industry, specialisation, expertise level, and company. 

How to become a Visual Designer in 5 steps

It is not mandatory to have a degree, but you may consider a degree in graphic design or a similar field. Typical areas of study include visual communication, graphic design, and fine arts. You can learn more about pursuing this career path in the following walkthrough. 

1. Build essential skills. Creativity is a critical component of a visual designer’s role. You must be able to strategise using colour, lines, typography, and white space. Since visual designers often work closely with design teams and companies to create brand imagery, you must possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. 

2. Familiarise yourself with visual design tools. A few of the most popular visual design tools include Figma, Adobe Photoshop, and Canva. You can get started with Canva and practice creating your digital products for free with the following Guided Project:

Create and Design Digital Products using Canva

3. Enhance your resume. Transitioning into a new role can be intimidating when you haven’t yet gained on-the-job experience. In place of experience, visual designers can build portfolios of their best work. These portfolios allow job seekers to showcase specific skills and knowledge. You can create your portfolio by working on projects independently or enrolling in a Guided Project like the one mentioned above. 

4. Choose an area of focus. Another way to increase your competitiveness as a candidate is to choose a specialisation. For example, suppose you plan to become a visual designer specialising in UI design. Consider earning a UI/UX design certificate from the California Institute of Arts or a UX Design Professional Certificate from Google.

5. Stay current with the industry. When you stay up-to-date with the visual design industry, you can demonstrate expertise to employers and learn about the latest trends and technologies. You can follow industry experts on social media or subscribe to relevant blogs and YouTube channels. Check out relevant Slack channels like the Designed Slack discussion to explore design processes and tools, visual design jobs, and more for peer-to-peer connection.

Learn more about visual design with Coursera

Continue building your visual design expertise by enrolling in The Language of Design: Form and Meaning, a course from the California Institute of the Arts, or explore a Specialisation with the UX Design Professional Certificate from Google.

Article sources

  1. Indeed. "Visual designer salary in India, https://in.indeed.com/career/visual-designer/salaries." Accessed March 22, 2024.

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