What is visual design?

As well a creating an initial impression that is easy on the eye, utilises and blends colours in an effect manner, and can carry a given branded identity, the essence of Visual design is to optimise the user's ability to interpret, engage and interact with a digital entity (e.g. website or application).

A key aspect of visual design is the creation of a clear visual hierarchy so that the user can see at a glance what is important and what is peripheral along with the clear definition of the functional regions of a digital interface.

Some of the core principles of visual design are:

  • Proximity
  • Balance
  • Emphasis
  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • White (or empty) space
  • Levels of information (i.e. the title or theme, subtitles or bulleted points, text detail, calls to action)
  • Typography

What sets visual designers apart from the pack is experience and abilities in the field of usability in general and the ability to truly put themselves in the shoes of the core user types in question. Where this skillset is present then the visual designer becomes an even more valuable member of the design team and can partly traverse into the domains of interaction design and UI design.

Next steps

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Updated: 26 Aug 2015
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