The cool guy and the quarterback

UX versus Graphic Design

Here’s the thing, having two particular letters of the alphabet in your job title right now is good. In fact, it’s not just good, it’s money. Lots of money in most cases, particularly if you’re working in the Bay Area. There are a incredibly talented designers, who have long identified as graphic designers who are making the switch to UX designers for many different reasons (Disclaimer: for those of you judging, I am a guilty as charged). The following is an attempt to break this down into black and white. Bear with me.

UX is the new guy at school who transferred from another school across town — so he’s not really “new” right? — but everyone is trying to impress him anyway. He’s so cool that he’s got other guys acting like him. Teachers think he’s awesome and his name comes up in the break room. There’s even a Social Studies teacher who has started riffing on his style. It’s weird. At the same time, UX seems like an honestly nice guy so even the haters have a hard time not sneaking a peek through their locker slots between classes to see what he’s wearing. If he wasn’t so damn cool…

And then there’s Graphic Design. Graphic design is the guy that has always been Mr. Cool until new guy UX transferred in. Graphic design has been The Man since first day of kindergarten. All the teachers know his family, he’s a solid straight A student, a good athlete, and to top it off is pretty cute. His family is a well known in the community and his dad and was an all star football player when he was in high school.

Everybody knows Graphic Design. He’s got a solid background and all the parents want their daughters to date him. But UX has been here for a few months and it’s kinds of starting to feel like no one really cares about Graphic Design anymore. Sure, he comes up in conversation every once in awhile — like how that time in middle school when he was the lead role in the school play AND art directed and helped build the entire set. And then everyone takes 30 seconds to reminisce about the the good old days.

But here’s the weird part, even though they have a lot in common, UX and Graphic Design don’t get along and a few kids at school are starting to wonder why UX and Graphic Design don’t hang out. In fact, most times they act like each other. If we’re talking differences, Graphic Design tends to be more concerned about how he looks and UX seems to be less focused on his image and more interested in the vibe around him, but overall they have a lot of similarities. They both really enjoy making everyone at school happy. But it’s a real bummer that they don’t seem to want to be allies.

In an ideal scenario, UX could work on making the high school experience great for everyone, not just the cool kids…because let’s be honest, that could be better across the board. And Graphic Design could create some fantastic posters. Heck, Graphic Design could create a full fledged branding campaign for the ultimate school experience. Plus, if they teamed up, they could throw one hell of a party. And ultimately, isn’t that what we want?

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