Visual design is a form of communication that uses visual elements such as color, typography, imagery, and composition to convey a message and create an aesthetically pleasing and engaging experience for the target audience. It involves the creation and manipulation of these visual elements to achieve a specific look and feel, with the goal of effectively communicating the intended message and evoking an emotional response in the audience.
Visual design can be applied in various fields, including graphic design, web design, product design, advertising, and more, and is an important aspect of many products and services we use in our daily lives.
This blog is a comprehensive guide to understanding visual design and how to hire the right visual designer for your company.
What do Visual Designers do?
A visual designer is someone who designs the look and feel of a website or an app.
They create all of the images, illustrations, and graphics necessary to make the user interface look good. A visual designer will also design the layout of a site so that everything looks good together.
Visual designers are often employed by design firms or advertising agencies, where they may be responsible for conceptualizing and implementing the overall look of a product or campaign. This can include everything from the color scheme to the font choice, and even some aspects of web design and print layout. They work closely with clients, stakeholders, and other members of the design team to understand project requirements and to create designs that meet the needs and goals of the target audience. They are skilled in using design tools and software, and are able to manage multiple projects, timelines, and expectations while maintaining the highest level of quality in their work.
What is the difference between Visual Designers and Graphic Designers?
The overlap between graphic designers and visual designers is a source of confusion for people looking to enter the industry or recruiting for either role, so it's important to know the difference.
A graphic designer creates logos, websites, and other marketing materials while a visual designer creates interfaces (for example, apps or websites).
Graphic designers work on projects from start to finish: they create concepts, sketches, and mock-ups before creating finished designs in Photoshop or Illustrator.
Visual designers are more involved in the design process, but their main focus is on the end-user experience rather than the actual design itself. Visual designers might help select fonts and colors for a project, but they're not responsible for creating them.
Both roles require a strong understanding of design principles and techniques, as well as the ability to create designs that effectively communicate a message and reinforce the brand's identity. However, the specific skills, tools, and techniques used by each will vary depending on the focus of the role.
What are the roles and responsibilities of a Visual Designer?
A visual designer creates the concepts, artwork and layouts for digital projects. Visual designer duties are often industry or project-specific, so job descriptions frequently call for knowledge of a particular business sector. Individual companies may also prefer candidates to have business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) or marketing expertise in a specific area. In general, most visual designers are required to:
- Establish the look and feel for various interfaces, including websites, mobile devices, apps, kiosks, games and wearables
- Work within brand guidelines to create layouts that reinforce a brand’s voice through its visual touchpoints
- Design user-centered interaction models, wireframes or screen mockups
- Design logos, icons and infographics
- Closely collaborate with IT and business teams to solve complex issues, like interaction models and data visualization
- Create and organize production assets
- Ensure assets are consistent and compatible across various devices
- Source images (stock photos and video footage)
- Work with a component library
- Develop mood boards and color studies
- Work on marketing items, presentation materials and interactive event materials
- Juggle multiple projects while effectively managing timelines and expectations
A visual designer plays a crucial role in creating engaging and effective visual designs for digital products and services and reinforce the brand's identity and message. They use their expertise in visual design and their knowledge of various design tools and techniques to create layouts, logos, icons, infographics, and other visual elements that help communicate the intended message in an effective and aesthetically pleasing way.
What skills do Visual designers have?
Visual designers are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in design and a firm grasp of Adobe Creative Cloud, particularly Photoshop, Adobe XD and Illustrator. Experience with other software may be required. A visual designer should also understand web design issues, including browser usability and cross-platform compatibility. Responsive design, marketing and e-commerce experience are also pluses.
In general, a visual designer should have the following:
- A solid foundation in design, layout and typography
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Experience with transitions, animation, motion design and dynamic interactions
- Excellent visual, written and verbal communication skills, along with presentation and negotiation skills
- A knack for staying organized, including the ability to prioritize tasks, communicate progress and meet deadlines
- The ability to know when to positively take direction and work both collaboratively and solo
One nice-to-have skill set for a visual designer is basic coding knowledge or a sufficient understanding of programming concepts to communicate comfortably with software engineers.
What tools and technologies do Visual designers use?
Visual designers use a variety of tools and technologies to create designs for digital and print media. Some of the most common tools and technologies include:
- Photoshop - Photoshop is a graphic editor that is best used for image editing. It is the industry standard for manipulating photos and computer art. Photoshop offers 2D and 3D image manipulation, compositing, video editing, and image analysis.
- Illustrator - With Illustrator, visual designers can create everything from vector illustrations and logos to graphics and fonts. While Illustrator shares many similar tools and functions with Photoshop, it is centered around vector design, which means that you can resize and rescale designs without losing image clarity.
- InDesign - InDesign is a page layout program and an essential tool for Designers working in publishing. This software can be used for laying out magazines and newspapers, or putting together reports and brochures. With InDesign, Designers can effectively organize text, create layout formats, insert image placeholders, and save files in a print-ready format.
- Adobe XD - AdobeXD is the Adobe prototyping tool for user experience and interaction designers. Adobe XD features are used for creating wireframes, prototypes, and screen designs for digital products such as websites and mobile apps.
- Sketch - Sketch is a vector-based tool available on Mac and focuses on web, app, and interface design. This is a great program for designing icons, ad banners, social media images, and presentation materials. It also has many UI and UX-related usages, such as icon design, prototyping, and creating user flows.
- PicsArt - PicsArt’s all-in-one online Photo Editor features endless editing tools to help you create professional-grade content even if you don’t have any experience in the designing field. They even house an impressive Video Editor you can use to add music and effects to videos. The app — which also has a desktop web editor — also boasts one of the largest creative communities in the world.
- Paletton - Colors will bring life to any design and a designer knows the huge importance of a good color scheme. Palleton is a designer tool for creating color combinations that work together well. Designers can choose colors on a color wheel and select from some tried color combinations such as Monochromatic, Adjacent Colors, Triad, Tetrad, and Freestyle.
- Webflow - Webflow allows designers to create sites in a relatively short time. Visual designers can design and develop at the same time, with minimal effort and do not need to know how to code to work with this tool; they can export and change the site’s html / css tags according to the organizational needs.
- Figma - Designers use this tool for its free features and unlimited cloud storage with the free version. Its strength is with vector graphics, with an impressive range of tools for collaboration.
- Procreate - Procreate bills itself as a complete art studio, made exclusively for iPad and Apple Pencil support. It is a one-time purchase with no free trial or version available. Designers use its vast array of templates, fonts, and customizable brushes and bring their Photoshop ones into the app, which will perform better with its in-built Valkyrie engine.
- GIMP - GIMP has come a long way as one of the first open-source design software programs. Its strength is in photo editing, whether it’s a quick fix or a redesign. It’s a lightweight alternative to heavy hitters, such as Adobe Photoshop. GIMP provides much of the same functionality for free and has a customizable workspace with user-friendly navigation.
- Affinity Designer - Affinity Designer is an excellent choice for personal projects or novice designers with its intuitive user interface. It’s a worthy competitor to Adobe Illustrator, with a similar suite of design tools and added user-friendly features. It’s a good fit for individuals who want a budget-friendly alternative without sacrificing functionality.
It's also common for visual designers to use project management and collaboration tools such as Asana, Trello, and Slack.
Which agencies are really well known for Visual Designs?
There are many agencies that are well-known for their visual design work, across a range of industries including advertising, branding, technology, and entertainment. Here are a few examples:
Stefan Sagmeister is a provocateur with deep ties to independent musicians and the arts. He’s had clients like Lou Reed, David Byrne, the Guggenheim, and many more. The studio he created with Jessica Walsh is renowned for its edgy, unpredictable style.
It can be seen in the studio’s homepage which features a live webcam that shows what’s going on in a New York-based studio right at that moment.
Notable Clients: Snapchat, 7Up, The Gap, BMW, The Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, NYTimes Magazine, Lou Reed, Jay-Z, Brian Eno, David Byrne, Random House Publishers, the AIGA, Autodesk, Levis, Adobe
MetaDesign was founded in 1979 by three German designers, including famed typographer Erik Spiekermann. Since then, it has taken on design work for clients large and small, including big names like The Economist and Apple. Spiekermann has stayed active as a type designer, creating such acclaimed typefaces as FF Meta and Officina.
Notable Clients: Apple, AT&T, eBay, FIFA, Intuit, Lamborghini,, Netflix, Sony, Intel, Polo Ralph Lauren, 23andMe, Volkswagen, The Economist, New York Philharmonic, Texture, San Francisco Ballet.
This storied design studio is one of the undisputed giants of design and branding in the world. Started by Walter Landor in 1941, the company has grown exponentially over the years and now has 23 offices in 20 countries.
High profile work for clients like Coca-Cola, the WWF, FedEx, Levis, Apple, and BP have firmly established this studio as one of the greats.
Notable Clients: Nike, Coca-Cola, the WWF, FedEx, Levis, Apple, Volvic, Kraft, Jameson, BMW, Henkel, Old Spice, Citroën, Proctor and Gamble, Juicy Couture, Rolex, John Deere.
Another great graphic design company is Pentagram, located in London. Established in 1975, this company is a great place for advertising, branding, packaging, and more. All thanks to more than 45 years of expertise. In fact, Pentagram is well known for bringing a solid team of experts to the table who will reinvent your branded visuals.
Notable Clients: Citibank, United Airlines. Saks Fifth Avenue. Harley-Davidson, Alexander McQueen, Clear Channel, The National, The Daily Show, One Laptop Per Child, Revlon, Cosmopolitan, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Grey Goose, Tiffany and Co, Vanity Fair.
They’re a creative firm who have been in business for over 20 years. Composed of a talented group of people in Philadelphia, this firm is able to bring together experience and a playful approach within all its designs.
Brands that they’ve worked with before include MTV and Uniqlo. They’ve created such a unique spin for these clients that they’ve both become recognizable icons in media and clothing. Their futuristic typography and fun illustrations are something to remember for your own materials.
Notable Clients: Hermes, The Cher Show, Eames, The New Yorker, Design With Reach, Ford, John Mayer, Heath Ceramics, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Vogue Japan, Agent Provocateur, MTV, Chronicle Books, Uniqlo, Baccarat, Herman Miller
These are just a few examples of companies apart from tech giants like Apple, Google and movie studios like Pixar that are known for their strong visual design work.
What is a good Boolean search for finding Visual Designers?
Boolean search is a powerful tool for recruiters when it comes to finding relevant information or searching for visual designers. By using Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT, recruiters can refine their search and get more accurate results on Google.
When searching for visual designers, start by thinking about the specific skills and areas of expertise you are looking for. For example, you may be interested in finding a visual designer who specializes in branding, user interface design, or motion graphics. Once you have identified these areas, you can use relevant keywords to build your search string.
For example, if you are looking for a visual designer who specializes in branding, you might search for "brand identity" AND "logo design". If you are interested in finding a visual designer who is skilled in user interface design, you could search for "UX design" AND "user interface".
In addition to keywords, you can also use Boolean operators to exclude certain results. For example, if you only want to see results for visual designers who use Adobe Creative Suite, you could search for "visual designer" AND "Adobe Creative Suite" NOT "GIMP".
A generic boolean search string around terms looks like:
- -job -jobs -sample -examples, to exclude irrelevant results
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) to discover candidates’ online resumes or CVs
- (“graphic designer” OR “visual designer”) to cover variations of the same job title
Here’s an example of a simple string to find resumes:
(intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) (“graphic designer” OR “visual designer”) -job -jobs -sample -templates
With this search string, the words “resume” or “CV” have to appear in the page title. Adding variations of designer job roles provides a larger number of relevant results. And, excluding more terms will reduce false positives.
Now we search for profiles and portfolios on specific social networks using Boolean search in Google by including the site: operator and terms found exclusively on member profiles. For example:
- site:coroflot.com “summary” “graphic designer”
- site:dribbble.com “illustrator” “shots” -jobs
- site:behance.net “visual designer” “project views” chicago
Add more criteria in your Boolean search string for visual designers to find profiles that better match your requirements. Some examples:
Skills and experience with specific software:
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” AdobeXD -job -jobs -sample -templates
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” (InDesign OR Illustrator NOT GIMP) -job -jobs -sample -templates
Work (or have worked) in senior roles
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” (“art director” OR “creative director” OR senior) -job -jobs -sample -templates
Have experience in print and editorial design
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” (“print design” OR “editorial design”) -job -jobs -sample -templates
Are familiar with Wordpress
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” Wordpress -job -jobs -sample -templates
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” (HTML OR CSS) -job -jobs -sample -templates
- (intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) “visual designer” PHP -job -jobs -sample -templates
By using Boolean search as shown above in combination with other research methods, you can greatly increase your chances of finding the right visual designer for your project.
Good luck with your recruiting!
Rocket pairs talented recruiters with advanced AI to help companies hit their hiring goals and knows technology recruiting inside out. Rocket is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley but has recruiters all over the US & Canada serving the needs of our growing client base across engineering, product management, data science and more through a variety of offerings and solutions.