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User Experience in Graphic Design & Why it Matters

When people think of user experience in design, they often think specifically of web design or even app development. While user experience is a crucial aspect of these fields, it can also apply to nearly any engagement that we have with media, and therefore it is something you should consider as a graphic designer even if you are not specifically working in web design.

What Do We Mean By User Experience?

When we talk about user experience, we are referring to the way people interact and engage with something. In web design, it usually refers to usability: navigability, how fast the page loads, hierarchy, etc. These principles are also important for mobile app design, but user experience in this setting also includes the way we utilize gestures and controls and whether they are intuitive.

Here are some other examples of design where user experience is important:

  • Print Design
  • Packaging Design
  • Out of Home Advertising
  • Motion Graphics

User Experience in Print Design

If you’re a print designer, user experience means something very different than it does in web design—though there is some overlap. When dealing with print design, one of the first obstacles you’ll tackle is readability. You have to determine whether the information can be read easily by most people. This means paying attention to font choices, color and contrast of backgrounds and type as well as general typography concerns like tracking, kerning and leading.

While this may seem obvious when considering the user experience, there are also more subtle elements to consider. A prime example of this is business cards. You have to consider how the business card will be used and who will be receiving it, as well as how it is being delivered to them. One trend is to utilize QR codes within business cards. While many people disagree with this and think of it as a gimmick, it can actually be a unique way to make print design interactive if done well. For example, a business card can have a QR code that leads users to a video thanking them for taking your card and reintroducing yourself with more information about your work.

Even without this element, business cards can offer a gateway to other platforms such as your website or social media presence as well. Part of the user experience is making sure the branding in your print media is consistent with your digital presence. This is something that can be challenging when different designers work on these projects, unless they are part of the same team or the client or employer is emphasizing consistency when giving direction.

When designing brochures, one has to consider the user experience in terms of the priority of information and how someone is likely to proceed through it. This means understanding how to establish a visual hierarchy and lead the user through the content in the appropriate order.

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The WebRecital is a dedicated User Interface/User Experience professionals who come together to provide design and research workshops, portfolio reviews, and educational outreach to the greater Seattle area.

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