UX and visual designer mashup (sometimes)

Fuzzy Math is a small(ish) but mighty office. We’re a team of user experience experts and there are times when UX and visual designers work can overlap. We encourage times when the disciplines cross and have a few tips on how other teams can do the same.

I sit three seats away from a UX designer who has a letterpress machine in his living room, a visual designer across from me is scheduling and conducting usability testing, and EVERYONE is asking for or offering feedback. These are just a few examples of when UX and visual design overlap in the Fuzzy Math office. Folks in our office really respect the craft of each discipline, but there are times when it’s helpful and necessary for some overlap.

We all have the same goal: to create a successful system that works for its intended purpose and audience. We do this by empathizing with our users and designing solutions supported by research and experience.

Our office is a little unique in that we’re solely comprised of UX and visual designers. We don’t have anyone working in a silo speciality, but we do have folks with experience and knowledge in specific areas. Out in the design wilds this is often called a T-shaped designer, a generalist with one area of deep expertise. Here at Fuzzy Math a UX designer needs to tackle several parts of the design process, including but not limited to research, strategy, information architecture and interaction design. A visual designer is doing much more than ”making it pretty”, they’re concerned with how visual elements, animations, and interactions can best support the user’s goals while also supporting the brand and product direction and personality.

At Fuzzy Math we recognize the cold hard truth about those “unicorns” — they don’t exist. No one is good at everything. What does exist is the ability to say,

“hey I’m good at xyz and I’m willing to help”. Or even better, “hey I need help on this interaction design or font choice or anything, is someone available?”

That’s what Slack is for, right? 😉

We see this scenario all the time: A UX designer or visual designer is struggling to find a solution to a design problem and only after input from a colleague counterpart does an answer take shape. We believe by encouraging a collaborative environment is the best way to capitalize on the experience and professional knowledge of a team of UX and visual designers.

Here are some tips we’ve found useful with helping our visual and UX designers work together

  • Stay in communication throughout the entire design process
  • Ask for feedback from both visual and UX designers — each will have a unique point of view that will only help make your design stronger
  • Include both UX and Visual designers at the brainstorming stage
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Support your colleagues by giving actionable feedback
  • Encourage skillshare meetings
  • Extend your empathetic approach to your colleagues, understanding where they’re coming from and how you can best collaborate

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