Which Design Field is Right For Me?

With the increasing number of design roles comes a difficult question: which design field is right for me? This article will give you an overview of the common design roles in 2023, what they are about, and how to choose a design field that’s right for you.

Which design field is right for me?

With the increasing number of design roles comes a difficult question: which design field is right for me? This article will give you an overview of the common design roles in 2023, what they are about, and how to choose a design field that’s right for you.

This article will look at three of the main design fields we currently have in 2023. These are UI and UX design, visual design, and product design. Let’s zoom in on what they’re about, their differences, and my experience after working in these fields for the past years.

For every design field, we’ll talk about the work you will likely do and list the pros and cons of each particular design field.

Table of Contents

Picking a design field that is right for you

Selecting a design field that is right for you is as much about the design field in question as it is about who you are as a person and a designer. Your design role has to be the right fit for you as a person.

To help you select the right design field, we’ve created a summary for three of the most common design fields available today.

  • UI and UX design
  • Product design
  • Visual design

What all design fields have in common

Before we talk about differences, there’s an important overlap between design fields that I’d like to point out. It’s the fact that you will be seen as a creative and a designer for all three design fields.

It sounds obvious, but it is very important to point out. I, for one, am not the most creative person out there, but still, people expect me to be a great logo or visual designer. Keep this in mind. Are you a creative visual designer or a more technical UX designer?

Alright. With that out of the way, we can get started with the design fields of this article. Let’s take a look.

UI and UX design

UX design, or user experience design, is a role within the broader design field that focuses on the interaction between users and products, software, and objects.

This means that your work as a UX designer is less about creating pixel-perfect visual designs. Instead, your focus is connecting user goals and business goals.

You do research, create customer journeys, facilitate design sprints, and design based on the outcome of these activities. It is a very social role that requires people skills. Other tasks can include the following.

  • Creating personas.
  • Exploring a customer journey.
  • Facilitating design sprint workshops.
  • Designing wireframes.
  • Presenting UX ROI to stakeholders.

You’re also expected to do a lot of UI design work at many companies. That’s why this design field includes both UI and UX design roles.

Keep that in mind when deciding whether the UI and UX design field is for you. If you want to be something other than a UI and UX hybrid designer, you have to be very critical about the jobs you apply to.

Finding a job within the UX design field with a 100% focus on UX is possible, but these jobs are rare compared to UI/UX roles.

When is UI and UX design the right field for you?

UI and UX are suitable for you if you like to work with people. Also, UX design is for you if you’re a puzzle solver.

For example, creating a customer journey that fits different use cases and business goals together is like solving a complex user puzzle. That’s what my experience as a UX designer has been like during most of my projects.

If you want to learn more about UX, read some of our guides, including our post on how to become a UX designer.

Product design

Product design is a role or design field that is entirely aimed at the development of a product that solves a user problem. For example, you could design an ATM, cereal box, or even a complete grocery store.

Let’s take a look at the example of designing an ATM. This machine solves the problem of withdrawing money from a bank or being out of cash altogether.

Designers in the field of product design would focus on the following.

  • Gathering product requirements.
  • Creating interface and system designs.
  • Researching user problems.

Product design vs. UX design

Product design and UX design are very similar. Some even say that they’re the same. But what’s the difference?

Where a user experience designer is a puzzler, the product designer is more of a technical designer. You have to figure out how someone interacts with an ATM, where the pain points are, and how you can solve that problem. You focus on the product where a UX designer has the user at its center.

When is product design the right field for you?

Being a product designer requires you to like the problem-solving part of design. You will have many discussions, facilitate lots of workshops, and often talk about the customer journey. This design field is more technical than others. You’ll have to like that type of design work!

There’s a great post on what product design is over on Medium. Go check that out if you want to know more.

Visual design

Up next, we have the field of visual design. Where other design roles do not focus on pixel-perfect design, visual designers do.

Visual design is all about creating pixel-perfect design solutions to create the wow factor for its users. You might be doing any of the following.

  • Creating a (personal) branding style for a client.
  • Color or logo exploration.
  • Designing websites.
  • Designing for print (posters, flyers, and billboards, for example).
Example of a visual design exploration

For example, the image above shows some visual design work you might do if you choose to become a visual designer.

When is visual design the right field for you?

Visual design is a very creative design field. That means you must like that type of work. Do you like to draw or paint? Do you like to think in images rather than text or numbers? In that case, visual design might be your thing.

One downside to visual design is the subjective aspect of it all. Your clients have to like your work. It is about more than just the science of design and more about connecting with your clients and designing something that they can relate to. You have to be a strong presenter.

How do I choose a design field?

Now that we’ve looked at some of the more common design fields, you still have to choose the design field that is right for you.

The most important thing to do is to look at your characteristics. There’s a big difference in the level of creativity expected of you. If you’re a creative designer, visual design might be the design field for you.

On the other end, a more technical person will flourish in a UX or product design role. To choose between product and UX design, see if you’d rather focus on the product or the user.

Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm , a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.