Raksa Yin, Lead Experience Visual Designer at Amtrak

What’s your relationship to visual design?

After graduating with a graphic design college degree, I was very interested in working in digital experience design. I am interested in how visual design blends brand identity and visual communications through digital interfaces. Throughout my career, I’ve been obsessed with this in my product design roles while designing interfaces, building design systems, and mentoring other product designers.

Why did digital experience design interest you as a graphic design graduate?

Prior to graduating, I took courses in web development, mobile design, and worked an internship where I did web design work. I really enjoyed it more than print design. Also, when I was looking for design opportunities at design agencies, I saw interesting digital experience design work for notable companies. To me, I was dreaming of doing design work for this kind of company. My gut told me that designers in digital experiences will be needed by companies in the future. That motivated me to hone my crafts and invest time into developing my visual design skills.

What impact did your graphic design background have on your digital visual design skill set?

I credit my graphic design studies a lot for my visual design skill set. I believe having a firm understanding of the principles of colors, typography, layout compositions, and imagery helped me as a product designer.

Are there any parts of the visual design of interfaces that your background didn’t prepare you for?

What it didn’t prepare me for were designing for interactions. The role of color, typography, layout, and imagery are played a bit differently on screens. When I did graphic design work, those elements were used to speak about brand value and mission. In digital experience design, it’s all that and helping users during their journey in a product. For example, when my team and I built design systems, we applied color, typography, layout, and imagery to influence our users’ perceptions and behavior.

Do you ever find that those two purposes of visual design clash?

I don’t think so. To me, I felt it has a greater responsibility of how visual design needs to meet the requirements for best user experience, brand perceptions, and business needs.

Are there any parts of your graphic design background that you wish interface design used more?

I say all this from the lens of my own taste in design. I would love to see more experimentation of page layout, typography, and illustrations in interface design. Here are some web experiences I enjoyed because they play with web layout, typographic scale, cursor interactions, and imagery:

Is there anything you want to share about visual design that I haven’t covered?

I guess the last thing is that the industry is growing with more product designers with degrees, certification programs, or career transition skills. I hope they dedicate some time to hone the craft of visual design on top of the UX and research skills they’re developing.