This is something I’ve struggled to figure out for a couple of years now, so I’m going to share my thoughts here and invite you all to give me your perspective and advice.
I see graphic design or visual design as an artistic process. When I work with a graphic designer I feel they bring the intuitive and genius element of design to the table while I bring the analytical and rational.
I make a concious effort to avoid rendering to graphic designers the same circumstance that business often renders to us UX’ers in treating us as eye-candy specialists who just whack some pretty stuff on at the end. I try to involve visual designers in my process as much as I expect business to involve me in their process … although sometimes graphic designers just don’t care and don’t mind just skinning signed-off wireframes.
I realise that I over-compensate when it comes to staying out of the graphic design process. I do so because it annoys me how everyone thinks they’re a designer and has little respect for a designer’s tacit knowledge and skills … so I stay out of it completely.
As far as I’m concerned if I’ve done my job properly and given the GD an adequate briefing then it’s unlikely the work they do will stray outside the parameters that I’ve spend time discovering, defining, testing and documenting. So unless colours are meaningful from a UX perspective then I’ll be happy with whatever the graphic designer produces even if my personal preference is for a different scheme … whilst others are happy to poke and prod and impose their own ideas.
There is significant overlap and except for dedicated user research type UX’ers, many of us have a strong visual element to our work. Colours can definitely come under the purview of experience design and it’s foolish to restrict ourselves to the black-and-white of typical wireframes. There are times when we will drop an image placeholder on a screen and leave it up to the visual designer or photographer to fill and in some cases it’ll matter that we are more specific about what that image should be.
How do other user experience designers work with graphic designers? Do you collaborate throughout the process and invite them to bring their artistic creativity into your work? Do you consider yourself skilled enough in graphic design than you can work with them as a peer? Do you just palm off your design documentation to them and walk away or micromanage? How do you respect their profession whilst also communicating subjective opinion on their work?
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