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Do you remember the last time you saw an ad without any appealing design or images? Probably not. You won’t capture anyone’s attention without a catchy headline and the right visual design elements. Headlines and visuals matter! Why? Because the average human attention span is only 8 seconds. This impacts marketers worldwide, making visual design even more vital to any successful marketing initiative.

Source: Toptal Visual Designer Vs. Graphic Designer

What is Visual Design?

Visual design isn’t merely an add-on in a creative project—it’s the lifeblood that elevates a website, marketing campaign, or even a flyer into a captivating, effective piece of communication. Far from just aesthetics, visual design combines colours, shapes, imagery, and typography into an irresistible visual narrative. Visual design is a language that speaks directly through visual elements to convey information efficiently.

It’s not just about what looks “pretty”—it’s about understanding your target audience and crafting visual experiences that resonate emotionally. Consider typography; the suitable typeface doesn’t just set the textual tone; it warrants an emotional aura around your content. Strategic font choices and tasteful layout can amplify your message, making it resonate profoundly with your audience.

Visual design is not just about beautifying a project; it’s a systematic approach to creating visually compelling narratives that look great, engage, and inform. Whether you’re harnessing the power of AI or sticking to time-tested techniques, grounding your work in foundational principles and stringent best practices will ensure you craft visually stunning and genuinely captivating designs.

Visual Design in UX

In User Experience (UX) design, visual design is the aesthetic cornerstone that complements and enhances the overarching design architecture. While UX encompasses the overall feel of the experience, incorporating aspects like strategy, scope, and structure, visual design zooms in on the tangible elements users interact with. From colour schemes and typography to iconography and spacing, each visual element contributes to a user’s journey, subtly guiding them through the interface.

What’s fascinating is how visual design in UX is not an isolated discipline but an integral part of a holistic design process. It works in synergy with other elements of user experience to fulfil the strategy, define the scope, and create an intuitive structure. When executed with precision, visual design ensures visual cohesion and a functional, accessible, and emotionally resonant user experience.

 

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Garrett’s Elements of User ExperienceThe Relationship Between Visual Design and User Experience Design | IxDF

Source: Interaction Design Foundation

Jesse James Garrett, a well-known figure in the UX design world, outlined a conceptual framework for understanding user experience design, which he calls “The Elements of User Experience.”  This framework breaks down the complex process into five distinct planes; Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface:

Strategy Plane:

The Strategy Plane lays the foundational groundwork for the entire UX design project. At this level, designers and stakeholders focus on defining the core objectives for both the business and the users. Questions like “What are we aiming to achieve?” and “What do users want or need?” are addressed here.

Scope Plane:

Once the strategy is set, the Scope Plane aims to specify the functionalities and content included in the design. Here, features are listed, prioritised, and agreed upon, ensuring they align with the project’s strategy.  The scope often includes user requirements and content specifications, a roadmap for subsequent design phases.

Structure Plane:

The Structure Plane focuses on how the system responds to the user. This involves defining the interaction design and information architecture of the product. The aim is to create an intuitive layout where information is easily accessible. This plane lays out the conceptual framework for how users navigate and interact with the system, ensuring the user’s journey is coherent and logical.

Skeleton Plane:

The Skeleton Plane dives into the specifics of interface design, including the placement of buttons, navigation elements, and other interactive components.  At this stage, wireframes or prototypes are commonly created to provide a visual guide for the layout and functionality. This plane ensures the user interface is functional, usable, and accessible.

Surface Plane:

The Surface Plane is where visual design comes into play. This plane focuses on aesthetics—how the product looks, including elements like colours, images, and typography. It’s not just about making things “pretty”; the visual elements should complement and enhance the overall user experience. 

By understanding Garrett’s Elements of User Experience, designers can create more compelling, user-centric products. Each plane serves a distinct purpose but is intricately linked to the others, providing a comprehensive framework for creating exceptional user experiences.

Visual Design in UI

Visual Design in User Interface (UI) design focuses on the look and feel of an application or website, acting as the finishing touch that captures the user’s attention and enhances functionality. Although closely related to UX, UI design zeros in on the tactile elements that facilitate user interaction with the product. The objective is to establish a visual language that resonates with the users while seamlessly integrating with the broader user experience.

Here’s a breakdown of crucial aspects to consider when incorporating visual design in UI:UI Design elements infographic Difference Between Graphic Design & Visual Design

While graphic and visual design operate in aesthetics and communication, they differ significantly in scope, application, and intent. Graphic design is a broader field that encompasses a range of mediums—from print to digital—focusing on creating visually compelling artwork and layouts for various purposes like advertising, branding, and publishing.

It can include anything from logo design to magazine layouts and often involves a deep understanding of print techniques and other traditional methods. Meanwhile, visual design is a discipline that targets how visuals are implemented in interactive or digital environments, such as websites and apps.

It focuses on crafting an aesthetically pleasing and functionally sound user interface to enhance user experience and engagement. In essence, while the graphic design might prioritise the message and the medium, visual design emphasises the user interaction within a specific digital context.

Importance of Visual Design in Marketing

Humans Are 90% Visually-driven

A graphic and impressionable image is crucial to grab and hold anyone’s attention. People can remember images better and faster than text as dominantly visual beings. We can process images our eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds.

Picture Superiority Effect

Over three days, an individual encounters a range of information. Studies revealed that the recall rate skyrockets to a staggering 65% when information is paired with images.  You read that right: images can easily etch information into our memory.  When the same information is presented solely through text or audio, the retention rate plummets to 10%. The vividness and impact of images have a transformative effect on our ability to remember and internalise information.

The implications of the picture superiority effect extend far and wide. This phenomenon indicates strategically integrated visuals in communication, education, and design. Including images isn’t just an aesthetic choice—it’s a tactical decision that can elevate engagement, comprehension, and, most importantly, memorability. In a world overwhelmed with information, the picture superiority effect allows us to stand out in the sea of forgettable content.

Should You Hire A Creative Agency

Given the importance of images in making a long-lasting impression on the human mind, companies can only do this by hiring a creative agency. When it comes to marketing, creative assets are a big part of every campaign or project, especially for social media marketing and dynamic social adsWith digital marketing as the norm, companies will need the combined expertise of content strategists, advertising specialists, and a team of creative professionals to bring out the best of what their company has to offer.

Even with a formidable sales force or a skilful inbound marketing team to narrate your story, the journey to capturing attention in marketing and holding it firmly rests in the hands of skilled creative designers. Curious about the impact of working with a creative agency? Witness it firsthand through these remarkable examples:

Brands That Ace Visual Design

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Crash Detection Feature

Apple stands as a prime example of the art of crafting impactful advertisements. The brand conveys a focused message in under a minute, exemplified by its crash detection feature. This concise video encapsulates the essence of crash detection for the audience. But it’s not just about the information—how it’s presented.  Visual storytelling, bold typography, rhythmic beats, and a sensible mix of attention-grabbing graphic design.

This style isn’t new to Apple; it’s a hallmark of their ad strategy. Over time, Apple has carved an advertising format that’s uniquely theirs, instantly recognisable. Behind this success lies a creative team that plays a pivotal role in shaping or defining a brand. In a world of fleeting attention spans, Apple’s advertisement mastery shows us the power of concise, engaging storytelling.  It’s a reminder that a mere minute can leave a memorable mark in the hands of creative brilliance.

McDonald Thailand’s Valentine’s Day Print Campaign

Did you do a double-take when you first saw these images? Released on Valentine’s Day for McDonald’s (Thailand) a few years ago, these are printed ads that showed pictures of people supposedly leaning in for a kiss…with a burger! Breaking away from the conventional and family-friendly approach that typically characterises McDonald’s ads, this campaign dared to be different with their infamous 8-second branding graphic.  This clever manipulation of visual elements masterfully plays with the notion of two individuals sharing a kiss, but what they’re leaning towards is not a partner’s lips—it’s a burger!

Source: Mcdonald’s (Thailand) Valentine’s Day Campaign: I’m Lovin it

The images depict people inclining toward their beloved burger, cunningly crafted to resemble a person’s face. The juxtaposition of romance and fast food creates a striking, amusing, and thought-provoking contrast. The simplicity of the concept, enhanced by skilful execution, underscores the impact of visual storytelling. So whether you find yourself single or in the company of a special someone, there’s a universal takeaway from these ads—you don’t have to be a romantic to appreciate the artistry of a well-designed campaign. 

In advertising, where the mundane often dominates, this remarkable fusion of visual design and creativity reminds us that even a burger can be a canvas for storytelling. Elevate your marketing game with stunning visuals. Unleash the power of eye-catching designs with our expert tips.

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Wrapping Up

We hope you can see the importance of visual design in advertising and marketing it can increase the success of any marketing campaign. A business will need attention-grabbing graphic designs to stand out from the myriad online ads.  This is especially important since a customer’s attention span lasts 8 seconds today, and online ad formats are getting shorter and shorter. 

So, before you start your next campaign, consider hiring a creative agency that helps you create designs that can attract and sell! Work with our diverse team of creatives who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. If you’re looking for a branding and visual communications expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Originally published: 15 July 2020
Updated: 18 September 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions About Why Visual Design Matters

Why Do We Need Visual Design?

Visual design is essential because it significantly impacts how information is perceived and processed. It is the visual interface between the user and the content, shaping first impressions and influencing decisions. Overall, effective visual design increases user engagement, satisfaction, and the likelihood of fulfilling the intended objectives, whether making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or any other action.

What Are the Basic Rules of Visual Design?

Basic rules encompass balance, contrast, alignment, hierarchy, and consistency. These guidelines serve as the foundation for creating visually pleasing designs. Balance ensures equilibrium in the layout, contrast adds visual interest, alignment ensures a coherent structure, hierarchy establishes a clear order of importance, and consistency maintains uniformity across different design elements.

What Is a Visual Design System?

A visual design system is a comprehensive set of guidelines, components, and assets that ensure consistency across a brand’s visual elements. It encompasses colour palettes, typography choices, iconography, logo usage, spacing rules, and more. A design system fosters cohesive and recognisable design, making maintaining a unified brand identity easier across diverse platforms.

What Are the Elements of Visual Design?

Visual design comprises colour, typography, imagery, shapes, lines, and space. Colour choices evoke emotions and convey meaning, and typography enhances readability and tone, imagery adds context and visual interest, shapes and lines create structure and movement, and space provides a sense of balance and organisation. These elements collaborate to form a harmonious visual composition.

What is the value of UI/UX design? In an era of digital acceleration, UI/UX is a particular set of design skills primed to be one of the fastest-growing careers. 

The field of digital design is rapidly expanding across organisations, continually evolving and giving rise to new niches. User experience design, user interface design, customer experience, and product design are all part of the larger landscape of building user-friendly digital content. They are responsible for an intuitive, impeccable user experience that leads to easy navigation.

A well-designed user experience and a user-friendly interface make a website or app more engaging, trustworthy and accessible. Many companies seek UI/UX designers who can transform their business’s digital presence through optimised interfaces and improved usability.

UI/UX designers work as part of a broader product team and often find themselves bridging the gap between the user, the development team, and key business stakeholders.

 

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What Is The Difference Between UI/UX?

 

UI vs UX Design

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are different skill sets. The two roles have distinct differences in the problems they solve, the methodology used and the tools they adopt in their day-to-day job. We’ve come up with a table of elements consisting of the differences in focus, components, responsibilities, tools and goals for UI and UX:

 

UI

UX

Focus
Primarily deals with the visual elements, graphic design theory, and overall design of a product, focusing on how it looks and feels to the user.Focuses on the overall user’s experience when interacting with a product. It’s concerned with how the user feels and what is achievable.
Components
Includes elements like buttons, icons, colours, typography and overall layout.Everything from user research, information architecture, wireframing, and prototyping to usability testing.
Responsibilities
Responsible for creating visually appealing and consistent interfaces, ensuring the design aligns with the brand’s identity.Responsible for ensuring that the product is user-friendly, efficient, and provides value to the user. They improve the overall flow and functionality.
Tools
Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma to create mockups and prototypes.Axure RP, Balsamiq, or InVision for wireframing, prototyping, user testing, and research.
Goals
Make the product visually appealing, easy to understand, and visually consistent.Create a seamless and satisfying user experience, ensuring users can achieve their goals efficiently.

 

The symbiotic relationship between User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design is nothing short of vital for the success and growth of any business. These two aspects work hand in hand, creating a dynamic duo that ensures the final product, whether it’s a website, a landing page, a mobile application, or any digital platform, is not just functional but thrives in today’s competitive landscape.

 

UX: User Experience

As the name suggests, UX designers are dedicated to user experience and are primarily “user first” in all their work. UX designers are responsible for ensuring the user finds information and easily takes action (such as making a purchase or booking an appointment). The UX designer is concerned with arranging information presented to users as they scroll through an app or website. UX professionals must prioritise content and place pieces of information strategically throughout a page.

Through user research, the UX designer will collect user profiles to gain insights into their needs and preferences. With this information, the designer then plans the content and site structure to cater to the users. This process, also known as user flow, creates different ways a user will likely navigate the site. The next step would be to sketch wireframes and develop prototypes based on the wireframes.

Wireframes are the basic skeletal structure of a website or app, allowing a UX designer to outline and map out user flow. A prototype (a mockup of a site or app) is then created and tested with users to collect feedback and fine-tune the product before the actual development.

Even after a product is completed, UX design doesn’t stop there. Any app or website must be refreshed occasionally to account for evolving search trends and ever-changing user behaviour. UX designers must continuously consider the shifting needs of both consumers and businesses to enhance the platform. Think about renowned social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Has your user experience changed and improved drastically over the years?

 

Source: ENGADGET

 

UI: User interface

UI is a digital space where users see and perceive information visually. It is concerned with interactive elements such as drop-down menus, form fields, clickable elements, animation, button styling and other critical tools in UI design. These are elements that will guide a user’s engagement with a product. UI designers take the framework and wireframes created by the UX designer and translate them into high-fidelity, final visual deliverables before handing them off to a development team for production.

 

Source: ui.sia
A vs B: Image B uses a gradient mixture to ensure the location mark can be seen better.

 

Source: ui_gradient
UI designers have to determine which visual element to use to guide a user to take action.

 

UI/UX Is Invaluable For Efficient Product Design

UI/UX designers are central to the creation of user-friendly designs. By understanding how different psychological principles influence human behaviour, UI/UX professionals design websites, apps and other products for a hassle-free browsing or shopping experience. Essentially, they’re responsible for creating human-centred designs for real users in the real world. Using the example of a cup illustrates the importance of UI and UX in any product design.

UI determines the appearance of the cup–in the form of a cute animal that appeals to consumers looking to buy a nice cup. The cup has a handle, signalling there is where they hold the cup. However, a lack of good UX design failed to account for the animal’s ears, posing a hazard to the person using the cup.

 

(Importance of UI and UX: one cannot do without the other)

While UI and UX are distinct disciplines, they are inseparable when creating a digital product that works and excels. Businesses that recognise the significance of this synergy can harness it to grow and flourish in a customer-centric digital age. Understanding the unique roles and responsibilities of UI and UX designers is just the first step in unleashing the full potential of this powerful partnership.

Example of Good UI/UX – Zalora Mobile Shopping App

Zalora Group is a leading online e-commerce and fashion retailer in various Southeast markets. As Asia’s leading online fashion destination, ZALORA’s localised sites offer an extensive collection of top international and local brands and in-house labels across apparel, shoes and accessories for men and women. ZALORA aims to provide consumers in Asia seeking a shopping experience focused on their unique styles, trends and fit, hence its tagline ‘With Zalora, you own now”.

A Seamless Shopping Experience with Zalora Shopping App

 

 

 

The images show that Zalora’s mobile app has multiple interactive buttons tailored to a mobile shopping experience. Buttons are placed at convenient touchpoints for those holding their phone with one hand. All the necessary information is also easily accessible on the same page, preventing users from entering and exiting a page to find information.

 

Why UI/UX Important For Businesses

According to a McKinsey Report, the most innovative and successful companies dedicate 12–14% of their resources to enhancing their design abilities. From the Zalora example, we can see how humanised designs can provide value to their users. This value will eventually trickle down to higher user interactions, engagement, and customer satisfaction, which will further trickle down to an increased ROI (Return on investment) for a business. Forbes estimates suggest that every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. That’s an ROI of nearly 10,000% increase!

Optimised For Faster Conversion

  • Conversion Optimisation

A well-structured UI/UX design streamlines the user journey, making it easy for customers to find what they need and complete their desired actions, such as purchasing.  Clear and intuitive navigation and persuasive calls-to-action (CTAs) guide users through the conversion funnel. Simplified checkout processes, with minimal steps and distractions, can significantly boost conversion rates.

  • Lower Bounce Rates

High bounce rates often occur when users visit a website or app and encounter difficulties using or navigating it. Good UI/UX design ensures that users are greeted with an appealing, user-friendly interface that encourages them to explore further. When users can easily locate relevant information and interact seamlessly with the platform, they are less likely to bounce back to search results or exit the site/app.

  • Longer Dwell Time

Dwell time, the duration users spend on your platform, is valuable. UI/UX designers can contribute to longer dwell times by creating engaging and interactive elements. Features like personalised product recommendations, related articles, and easy-to-access information keep users engaged and encourage them to explore more content or products. The longer users stay, the more opportunities you have to convert them.

  • Personalised Shopping Experience 

Personalisation is a key driver of customer satisfaction and loyalty. UI/UX designers can integrate features like product recommendations based on user behaviour and preferences. Sections like “You may also like this…” or “Recommended for you…” offer users tailored options, significantly increasing their chances of discovering products they love. This personal touch enhances the shopping experience, making users feel valued and understood.

  • Efficient Information Access 

UI/UX design focuses on information architecture and layout, ensuring that essential details like shipping and payment options are easily accessible. This minimises user frustration and reduces the time it takes for customers to make informed decisions. Users who can find important information without hassle are more likely to proceed to checkout.

  • Interactive CTAs 

Clear and compelling CTAs are essential for guiding users towards conversion. Well-designed buttons with persuasive text simplify the process of taking action, such as adding items to a wishlist, sharing products, or adding items to a cart. Interactive elements like hover effects or subtle animations can draw attention to these CTAs, encouraging users to move from consideration to purchase.

Build Your Customer Base & Brand Loyalty

  • Establishing Confidence and Credibility

In today’s digital landscape, your website or application is the initial point of contact between your business and potential customers. A well-designed UI immediately conveys professionalism and trustworthiness. When users encounter a website or app that looks polished, intuitive, and user-friendly, they are more likely to trust your brand and engage with your offerings.

  • Brand Recognition 

Consistency in UI and UX design elements, such as colour schemes, typography, and visual style, contributes to brand recognition. When users encounter and interact with these elements across your digital platforms, it reinforces your brand identity in their minds. This familiarity can lead to brand recall and loyalty.

  • Standing Out in a Competitive Market 

The digital landscape is saturated with competitors, making capturing and retaining customers challenging. A well-crafted UI and UX can be a differentiator. When your platform offers a superior user experience compared to competitors, you attract new customers and keep them engaged and loyal.

  • Winning Over Customers 

A user-centric design approach, which is at the core of UX design, prioritises the needs and preferences of your target audience. You create an emotional connection with users by addressing their pain points and providing solutions. When users feel that a product or service understands and caters to their needs, they are more likely to choose your brand over others.

  • Repeat Business and Customer Retention

Whether it’s an eCommerce site, a mobile app, or a SaaS platform, a smooth and enjoyable user experience keeps users returning. UI and UX development are not just technical components of web development; they are strategic assets for building a thriving business. Investing in good UI and UX design creates a strong foundation for winning customer confidence, fostering brand loyalty, and ultimately growing your business in an increasingly competitive digital environment.

 

Creating Business Value with Good UI/UX Design

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, and they are the ones who sustain it. Therefore, designing a pleasant and intuitive user experience should be at the heart of every digital product. Failing to cater to their needs and desired shopping experience will only lead to losing opportunities and conversions for your brand.

  • 90% of users reported they stopped using an app due to poor performance.
  • 86% deleted or uninstalled an app due to problems with its functionality or design.
  • 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

If your business is going digital, it’d be wise to invest time and money into creating and building digital products (websites, mobile apps, etc.) that provide a good user experience to reap the immense benefits it can provide for your business ROIs.

Discover more with 2S Creative Services

We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Singapore. From strategy to execution, we provide personalised digital solutions, including creative services for over 300+ clients ranging from MNCs and government institutions to local SMEs. Recently, we’ve also been featured as one of Singapore’s 50 best creative agencies. If you’re looking for a web design expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Originally published: 17 July, 2020
Updated: 14 September, 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions on UI/UX Design

What Is UI and UX Designing?

UI (User Interface) design focuses on a product’s visual elements and interactive properties, ensuring that the interface is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. In contrast, UX (User Experience) design deals with the overall experience a user has with a product, ensuring that it’s intuitive, efficient, and user-friendly. Together, UI and UX design work towards creating a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Do I Have to Know Programming to Be a UX/UI Designer?

No, you don’t necessarily need to know programming to be a UX/UI designer. However, understanding the basics of coding and the capabilities and constraints of web and app development can enhance collaboration with developers and inform design decisions.

Is UI/UX Graphic Design?

UI design overlaps with graphic design, involving visual elements like typography, colour schemes, and layouts. However, UI/UX design is more than just graphic design. While graphic design often focuses on visual communication and aesthetics, UI/UX design concerns functionality, user interactions, and overall user experience in a digital environment.

What Software Is Used for UI UX?

There are numerous software tools for UI/UX design. Some of the most popular include:

  1. Adobe XD: For wireframing, prototyping, and interface design.
  2. Sketch: A vector-based design tool for macOS, great for interface design.
  3. Figma: A web-based tool that allows for collaborative design and prototyping.
  4. InVision: Used for prototyping and collaboration.
  5. Balsamiq: A rapid wireframing tool that helps design interfaces quickly.
  6. Axure RP: Offers wireframing, prototyping, and specification tools.

The choice of software often depends on the designer’s preferences, the project’s specific needs, and the platform on which they are working.

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