"Good design is like a refrigerator–when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn't, it sure stinks." Irene Au
There are three main types of design: brand, product, and user experience design. Each one requires overlapping skills and a set of tools.
Some designers master a single specialty, and some focus on multiple. It's common for a designer to move from one design field to another (e.g., web design to product design). It's great to try things to see what you like best and the types of clients you want to serve.
Let's break down a few design roles out in the wild.
Types of Design Roles
Web Designers focus on a website's layout, color, typography, hierarchy, and responsiveness to communicate the company's value and help visitors opt into the website's objective.
Example Web Design Projects
- Website for a donut shop
- Wireframe of a website landing page
- Design system for a website
Web Design Tools
- Design tools: Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD
- Website builders: Webflow, Elementor, Shopify, etc.
Web Design Links
Brand Designers (aka Marketing, Digital, or Communications Designers) design everything from social media posts and email templates to convention booths and event t-shirts.
Example Brand Design Projects
- Tri-fold pamphlet for an event
- Banner ad for a website
- Sales deck for a startup
Brand Design Tools
- Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign & Adobe Illustrator
- Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD
Brand design links
Product Designers (sometimes called UI Designers or Interaction Designers) are responsible for how a product looks, feels, and functions. In other words, they make products beautiful and easy to use while working to achieve business goals. Product Designers often work with Product Managers, Engineers, Copywriters, and other product stakeholders to make applications better and easier to use.
Example Product Design Projects
- Design wireframes for a mobile app
- Create a prototype for a web app
- Build a design system for an app
Product Designer Tools
- Figma + FigJam
Product Design Links
User Experience (UX) Design
User experience designers focus on the user’s experience as they interact with a product, system, or service. This includes how users feel when using a product, how easy it is for them to complete tasks, and reduce error rates or frustration.
Example UX Design Projects
- Conducting user research
- Creating personas
- Designing user flows and wireframes
User Experience Designers Tools
User Experience Links
Motion designers focus on the design and animation of digital products, like websites and apps, as well as film and television.
Example Motion Design Projects
- Animate a TV commercial for an online bank
- Animate an intro video for iPhone App
Motion Design Tools
- Adobe After Effects
- Apple Motion
Motion Design Links
- The Path To MoGraph (Free Course) – School of Motion
- Complete Intro to Motion Graphics (Part 1 of 5) – TipTut YouTube Channel
3D designers create three-dimensional images and animations for product visualization or advertising.
3D Design Projects
- Build a title animation or intro for a TV show
- Create concert visuals for your favorite artists
- Explain how a physical product works with 3D animations
- Cinema 4D
- After Effects
- Blender 3.0 Tutorial – Blender Guru (YouTube)
- Intro to Modeling in Cinema 4D – School of Motion (YouTube)
There are endless problems to solve and stories to communicate for designers. In addition, the field is constantly evolving as new tools and technologies emerge daily.
We encourage you to explore different types of design and discover the types of projects, tools, processes, and people you enjoy working with. It’s great to try things to see what you like best and the types of clients you enjoy working with.