Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash

Early on in my journey into design, I would experience giving a user a mid-fidelity wireframe to test only to have at least 70% of the feedback be: it lacked color and images, etc to make it pop. This begs the question, does art come into play in the UX design process?

The short answer is no. To understand this we have to define what art actually is and what is its purpose. Oxford Language dictionary defines art as: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Art is inherently subjective, it can be translated by its observer in a myriad of ways. An artist might have a certain vision for what he is trying to express or sometimes no vision at all — just transmuting the emotions and feelings in the moment onto whatever medium they are using to present that art.

UX design is the design of the user experience. The process of creating this experience is fundamentally different from any art. UX designers are problem solvers and the vision of their designs are initiated from the perspective of the users who need a solution to a problem. The design follows function and content. All ideas and concepts have to serve a purpose for the intended end user. There is no room for interpretation.

Placement of design elements (such as CTA buttons) are decided based on many analytical studies of user behavior, i.e. finger placement on mobile devices. Colors and shapes are carefully chosen for their relevance to the project, legibility, and yes, aesthetics.

The difference between art and design is in the intent. While art may have no intent whatsoever, design is wholly intentional. You might argue that basic principles of art such as color, balance, texture, space, etc apply to design. This is not false, however, they are used simply to serve a practical purpose, not an artistic expression. The design of a finished product must look good, but it must also be good.

UX Designer and Food Enthusiast based in NYC