Digital Design and Graphic Design: Are They the Same Thing?
While both fields share commonalities in their dedication to crafting visually engaging and effective communications, digital and graphic design possess unique characteristics, methodologies, and purposes.
While graphic and digital design exhibit their unique characteristics, it’s essential to recognise that at their core, both disciplines share a joint mission: to create compelling and impactful visual communication. However, the differences between these two fields primarily stem from the types of visuals they make and the mediums they employ to deliver their messages.
Attributes of graphic design
Graphic designers play a pivotal role in maintaining a brand’s visual identity and ensuring it resonates consistently across various communication channels. This involves adhering to a brand’s corporate design standards, which serve as guidelines that dictate the use of specific elements. Graphic designers create designs that seamlessly fit a brand’s aesthetic, align with other marketing and communication materials, and remain consistent with the brand’s voice and image.
Graphic designers work on various materials, from print collateral like brochures and business cards to websites and social media graphics. Adhering to corporate design standards ensures these materials maintain a cohesive look and feel, even as they adapt to different formats and platforms.
Attributes of digital design
Digital designers, in contrast, occupy a unique and evolving niche within the design world. They specialise in crafting designs that users can actively engage with, manipulate, and experience on digital platforms. This distinction places digital designers at the forefront of interactive and dynamic design, where functionality is as crucial as aesthetics, if not more so.
Digital designers often specialise in UX and UI design. UX design focuses on the overall user experience, ensuring the digital product is intuitive, easy to navigate, and user-centric. UI design deals with the visual elements of the interface, including buttons, menus, and layouts. Digital designers must balance aesthetics and usability to create engaging and efficient user experiences.
As users access content on various devices, digital designers are challenged to create responsive designs that adapt seamlessly to various screens. This requires a deep understanding of responsive design principles and the use of flexible layouts and media queries.
Which jobs use graphic design?
Graphic designers can work in various capacities within advertising and marketing, providing creative and visually compelling solutions that drive engagement and convey messages effectively.
Here’s how graphic designers can thrive in different roles within this industry:
- Agency Designer:
Graphic designers play a pivotal role within advertising and marketing agencies. They collaborate with art directors, copywriters, and account managers to develop visual campaigns that align with the client’s goals and brand identity.
- Creative Ideation:
Graphic designers are actively involved in brainstorming sessions to generate creative campaign concepts. They contribute their visual expertise to transform ideas into compelling visuals and layouts that resonate with the target audience.
Graphic designers can work in-house for any business to ensure all marketing materials adhere to the company’s branding guidelines. They have an in-depth understanding of the company’s products, services, and goals, allowing them to design materials that align with the broader marketing strategy.
- Freelance Designer:
Freelance graphic designers can choose their clients and projects. They can work from anywhere, offering flexibility regarding work hours and location, and often work with a diverse client base.
Which jobs use digital design?
Digital design encompasses a broad spectrum of career opportunities, each with a unique focus and skill set. Creating engaging and functional digital experiences is the goal, and some of these roles are among the most popular:
- User Experience Designer (UX Designer):
UX designers conduct user research, analyse user journeys, and develop wireframes and prototypes to ensure a seamless and enjoyable user experience. UX designers structure the content and layout of digital interfaces to make information easily accessible and understandable. They also conduct usability testing to gather feedback from real users, helping identify pain points and areas for improvement in digital products.
- User Interface Designer (UI Designer):
UI designers are responsible for the visual elements of digital interfaces. They focus on creating visually appealing and cohesive designs that align with the brand identity, ensuring consistency across a digital product’s interface. UI designers often create interactive prototypes that showcase how users will interact with the interface.
- Production Designer:
Production designers focus on executing and preparing digital designs and work closely with UX and UI designers to translate design concepts into final assets ready for development and implementation. Production designers also perform quality checks to ensure the final product aligns with the approved design.
Animators add dynamic and animated elements to digital designs. They create motion graphics, transitions, and interactive animations that enhance the user experience and engagement. It is important to be proficient in animation software and techniques and able to collaborate closely with UX and UI designers to seamlessly integrate animations into digital interfaces.
Salaries for graphic vs. digital designers
According to data from Seek.com.au, the average annual salaries for digital designers and graphic designers in Australia vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the specific industry or company they work for.
These salary ranges provide a general overview of what professionals in these roles can expect:
- The average annual salary for digital designers in Australia typically falls between $70,000 to $90,000.
- Professionals with several years of experience and expertise in UX and UI design, as well as proficiency in tools and technologies related to digital design, may earn salaries at the higher end of this range.
- Graphic designers in Australia typically earn annual salaries ranging from $65,000 to $80,000 on average.
- Similar to digital designers, experience and expertise play a significant role in determining salary levels for graphic designers. Those with a strong portfolio and several years of experience may command higher salaries.
Which is right for you?
Design is an ever-evolving field, and designers must adapt to changing visual communication standards. Many designers start in one area and transition to another as their interests and skills evolve. Additionally, hybrid roles that blend digital and graphic design aspects are becoming increasingly common. If you are having trouble picking, you can try your hand at both! Best of luck.