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Product Design

What is visual design?

Ben Obear
March 24, 2016

Visual designers create you product's polished look and feel by consistently applying colors, fonts, images, icons, textures and gradients to each screen of your product. The pixel perfect visual design assets produced by your visual designer should include a style guide, which instructs web and mobile developers how to flawlessly implement each screen.

Top software development firms and agencies all use a similar design process that concludes with visual design. Some people argue, "Visual design is not a thing." We disagree. Visual design is an important step in the design process and visual design specialists have the skills to make products clean, consistent and compelling.

Well-executed visual design makes your product feel polished and professional, but the best visual designers aren't always the best user interface or user experience designers.

 Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

We agree with Steve Jobs' definition of design and we think it's important to find a firm that's great at both UI/UX and visual design. The designer creating your product's wireframes should work closely with your visual designer to ensure that all buttons and features are properly understood and incorporated into your product.

When you research companies that provide "product design services," you likely think about your favorite product's "visual design" and you look for companies capable of designing a product with a similar look and feel. As you review product design vendor portfolios be sure to look for links to live products and compare how you feel after using their live product to how you feel after using your favorite product.

Thinking of working with a third-party design vendor? Ask for examples of wireframe mockups that show how a user flows through each screen of a product as part of your evaluation process. You'll find the best product design companies have product wireframes readily available for you to review.

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Ben Obear
San Francisco