So, we have the long discussion about if interaction designers should know how to code. But what about visual design or GUI design?

A common team setup seems to pair a IxD guy with a graphic designer. The interaction designer creates the wireframes and hands them over to the visual designer. But if the interaction designer only focus on the functional aspect of the design and not so much on how the design should be visual experienced this approach doesn't give the visual designer enough room to explore a more visual dynamic or emotional driven layout.

I can see the benefit of this approach when you designing an application but when you design for example an online magazine the result gets too "appy". What's your take on the question.

4 Answers 4


I agree with Steve Psomas in The Five Competencies of User Experience Design. Visual design is one of the competencies. Still, you shouldn't be perfect in all of those.
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  • This might not be an answer to the OP's question or it's not argumented correctly. Steve Psoma just describes the competencies that together form something we call user experience design. He doesn't proclaim that someone being competent in one aspect of user experience design should be competent in others as well. To quote Steve Psoma: "For a UX team, these five competencies can provide clarity about the domain of each team member." In the context of this question he means the interaction designer knows his own discipline and is aware of that of others.
    – jazZRo
    Nov 22, 2013 at 5:46

In my opinion it is very essential to combine not only function but also form to have a complete and round experience of the product you are creating.

Yes a interaction designer should definitly know how to do visual design. Does he therefore need to exectue it everytime? No.


He / she probably needs to know something of visual design - but not too much.

Otherwise they will lose the ability to 'take one step back' from the world of visual design which is what their role requires.


Interesting question. I think visual design is about making something attractive to use while interaction design is about making users understand how to use it. But if a button isn't being seen beacuse it's color is the same as the background, it isn't very useful, is it? Still in my opinion interaction design isn't about the visuals, it is about how things work. Knowing what is possible and that it can be realized is more important than knowing what it should look like. Therefore, in my opinion, an interaction designer knows more about programming than about visuals.

But an interaction designer must work very closely with visual designers and programmers as well, so some experience in both fields is very welcome but not particulary necessary.

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