If you think about it with some imagination, the graphic designer is also driven by a "user-centered mindset" (please notice the quotation marks). In this regard, you are both the same.
A good graphic designer won't design something aesthetically pleasant for himself only. When he designs something, his purpose is to please people. He does it so that "People will like it."
Isn't this a "user-centered" approach?
I don't mean that by the book (I know user-centered is a thing exclusively related to UX). I'm only taking the argument on an atypical path to highlight the importance of team work cohesion that I will describe later on. What I meant by that is that a graphic designer's work can be a part of the user experience process in the broad sense of the term. If you like my design, it means you are a happy user (at least with regard to the visual (yet incomplete) aspect.
The separation between his solution and yours arises once with the stage of prioritization:
according to the graphic designer, the most important thing for the user is a smart and visually pleasant design with a meaningful message;
according to you, the UX expert, the most important thing for the user is the logical aspect of aligning the functions of the website with the user's needs and expectations.
So the real question is:
Which one is more important?
They are both equally important:
- I often hear UX people saying that their contribution is the most important. This might be true if your work is destined exclusively to other UX people or to technical experts used to schematics and abstract representations; this is very rarely the case.
- For the Graphic Designer who thinks that their job is all that matters, try riding a nice looking car without wheels.
Graphic Design, Web Design, UX Design - it's all a continuum. The separation between them is only the conceptual illusion derived from the fact that one person cannot do it all. We, the people (not the job we represent), have different personalities and mindsets:
Design checklists: What type of designer are you?
When we put our efforts together, it's only normal to encounter some disconnections, but if we talk about it, like a team should do, we will eventually find the solution (provided that there are no hidden egos and competition).
Before every professional connection, there must be a collegial connection which will eventually lead to professional cohesion. For one day, you could spend your time watching your graphic designer colleague do his thing, so that you will understand better the difficulties he encounters and the choices he has to make every day. He will do so in return. Then, when you take a UX decision, you'll also understand the graphic design implications, while your graphic designer colleague will keep in mind the UX principles he learns from you. More about that here:
7 WAYS TO IMPROVE TEAMWORK WITH DESIGN
"Disappearing into a hole and emerging with a solution isn’t teamwork. Opening your design process to anyone interested not only builds a better product, it builds a better team."