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Designer vs. Graphic Designer

Last week at International Coffee Traders in Bozeman, Montana I had a great conversation with my friend Maria about the difference between a graphic designer and a web designer. We also discussed the role of a web designer and how that differs from a print or graphic designer. I realize that both take a creative approach. But the area of information architecture or taxonomy usually doesn’t enter the conversation when you design an advertisement. Granted if you are doing numerous ads, how they work and fit together should be well planned out. But for the web this must be done from the get go. Part of this may stem from the accountability and results driven elements the web has become (and for good reason). From my teachings at MSU their were students who had no desire to learn code or how the web worked. They just wanted to give it a nice paint job. Their were a few, who definitely got it. They may have had the holy crap moment that it’s a lot to digest but they got it – they understand that they have the power to drive a user further into their website. They understood why it is important to understand the structure and how it all fits together. In this ever changing world, it seems that their has been an ever changing role of the graphic designer and I would say as an opportunity to understand the user experience to a greater level.

Designer versus graphic designer
Enter user experience design, or UX, and combine it with information architecture, IA for short, and you get a whole set of business requirements not to mention how you want the user to interact. The issue, as I see it, is their is a tremendous opportunity lost for the graphic designer to construct a winning solution for the client. Or is this the job of marketing and we’re just waiting long enough for the web as a platform to mature? I mean ad designers don’t have to figure out where the ad is placed. One thing is for sure though, the graphical user interface isn’t going anywhere, and the graphic designers that excel are the ones who realize that they are not just graphic designers but designers as well.