5 Types of Designers – Which one do you need?

RDI Network
August 2020
3 min read

So the project has been completed, the data has been analysed, and report has been written. Now, how will the findings be shared with the broader community? 
In the design sector, there are many types of designers – all with strengths in their own area of design. Generally, there is no cross-over in specialties, even if some skill sets or methodology are similar. For us non-designers seeking out help for our research outputs, here are some basic introductions to help decide which type is most suitable for you.: 
There are five main types of designers that each have their own skill set in their profession. This means it is important to understand which skill set matches your needs. Depending on the goal or intended impact of your research outputs and communications, you may be looking for: 

  • A Graphic Designer. If you are looking for individual graphics (such as icons, drawings, or descriptive images) or layout work on reports, then a graphic designer is perfect. This can be in any format as well. They mainly work on images, typography, layout and colours, to create these designs. Graphic designers can also work on branding and infographics. However, graphic designers are not visual data specialists, and can create visually-pleasing accompanying (but not accurate) data visualisations. Graphics designers are the only designers that still do print related work!  
  • A Web Designer. In a similar regard, a web designer does similar work as a graphic designer for digital and online formats. A web designer creates ‘the look’ of websites and/or online mediums and helps decide on colours, branding, iconography, typography, and layout. Generally, web designers do not code or put together websites – their designs then need to be sent to a web developer to turn into a real website or online experience. Please note that a web designer is not the same as the next two designers, who are equally as important in creating website and digital experiences.  
  • A User Experience (UX) Designer. If you are wanting to design a website, app, or digital experience, that feels effortless and seamless, then you are looking for a UX designer. A UX designer’s role is to improve the user’s experience – that is how one interacts online and in the digital space – whether a website is easy to navigate or frustrating to use. Another way you could look at it is that a UX designer is a website (or online experience) architect building the foundations. A UX designer will also be required to work closely with a web developer who codes the website / online experience. Some UX designers also design real-life experiences like the way we shop at Ikea or large chain supermarkets. 
  • A User Interface (UI) Designer. Often a UI Designer will often take over from the UX designer to construct the visual design aspect of interactive features of a website or online experience. That is designing the look and usability of drop down menus, animations, page transitions, and/or other clickable options. A UI designer will also be required to work closely with a web developer who codes the website / online experience. 
  • A Visual Designer. Also known as a visual data specialist, visual designers focus on larger design projects, rather than individual graphics. Their work has more of a conceptual approach as they are focused on visual communications, including accurate infographics and data visualisation. This means that they use their visuals to promote the organisation’s messaging, data, and brand. With this in mind, it is important that they have good communication skills as well! Effective science and research communication are often achieved together with a visual designer and comprehensive communications plan.


Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons