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27 February 2021

Key differences

Business Student Hub

If you’re an aspiring creative interested in design, this is a question you may have asked yourself. While both disciplines are centred around the same fundamental design principles, graphic designers often lack the digital skills that have become a core focus of businesses moving online.

COVID saw an accelerated shift to businesses building and enhancing their digital presence. On an unprecedented scale, we saw businesses transform their service delivery, moving most, if not all, customer-facing interactions online to support needs which were once managed almost exclusively face-to-face. Suddenly, it was possible to book a video consultation with your doctor or physio, have your local fruit and veg store deliver to your door and attend your gym classes over Zoom.

Brand and businesses increasingly want to stand out through engaging content and user experiences produced by digital design. As a designer, if you don’t have web skills, your job prospects are much more limited. A simple job search on Seek will show that there is more demand for digital designers than graphic designers. Read on to discover the differences between graphic designers and digital designers.

What do graphic designers do?

Graphic designers play an important role in developing a defined and consistent look across an organisation’s product line and branded materials. Below are just some of the responsibilities of a graphic designer:

  • Design brochures, logos, magazine covers, annual reports, and other communication materials
  • Demonstrate proficiency in Adobe’s Creative suite including programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign
  • Possess expert knowledge on print production, typography, colour theory, and logo and branding design.
  • Identify communication problems and develop visual solution
  • Meet with clients to understand their visual communication requirements
  • Present and propose designs to clients for approval

What do digital designers do?

Digital designers focus on the interaction between real human users and everyday products and services. It Includes many basic principles of graphic design but incorporates key elements such as responsiveness, usability, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.

  • Design and develop mobile apps, website design, animation, video games, and interactive experiences.
  • Be proficient in Adobe Premier Pro, After Effects, Figma, Sketch and Adobe XD
  • Use data and audience insights to develop high-quality digital experiences and content
  • Combine creativity with analytics - track the performance of content and designs through data like views, clicks, likes, shares, and webpage visits.
  • Know how to code and use languages such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS to create responsive websites

UniSA Online's Bachelor of Digital Media

Develop essential digital skills including graphic and web design, social media management, content creation, video and audio production, animation and digital storytelling.

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