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Visual Design v. Graphic Design

Many people use the terms visual design and graphic design interchangeably, but there’s a key difference between the two. While sometimes having overlapping elements, they are actually two distinct disciplines that often work in tandem to create a cohesive design concept. While they are often used interchangeably, there are key distinctions between them.

Visual Design was developed as a combination of graphic design and user interface (UI) design and focuses on the overall look and feel of a project. (ie. Does the finished product look good enough to go to market?) This discipline includes the layout, colors, fonts, texture, and other elements that create an overall visual experience. A visual designer is responsible for making sure that the visual elements of a project are cohesive and effective.

End Goal: Build a presentable visual language with a cohesive look and feel that is consistent with the brand and content presented.

Often Mistaken For: Brand Design, Web Design, Visual Communications, Digital Design

Graphic Design is the art of creating visual content that communicates a message. This includes logos, typography, illustrations, and other visual elements. Graphic designers focus on creating visuals that are aesthetically pleasing and that communicate a brand’s message.

End Goal: Communicate an idea or convey information through the medium of graphics.

Often Mistaken For: Graphic Art, Art Direction, Creative Direction, Brand Design

The main difference between visual design and graphic design is the emphasis on the aesthetic versus the function. Visual design focuses on creating a visually pleasing experience that conveys a message, while graphic design focuses on the practical application of the design. Both disciplines are essential for creating a successful design concept, but they require different approaches and skill sets to achieve the desired results. Both disciplines are important in creating effective visuals that help to convey a message.


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