Evidence that designers don’t talk about visual design
I believe that the visual design of software interfaces is not given the attention it needs by designers in positions of power. Here’s some evidence to support the belief.
As of December 2022, I’ve found 19 books about the visual design of software interfaces. I believe that’s all of them. Nine of them are self-published by designers who I assume realised there was a gap in the market. By far the best of the 19 books was written in 1994 (“Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques” by Kevin Mullet and Darrell Sano).
“About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design” is a book written by the Cooper software design agency. It positions itself as an end-to-end guide to software interface design. Of its 720 pages, 28 of them are about visual design, or 3.8%.
Career Foundry offers a course called “UI Design”, with the tagline “make the web beautiful”. Of the ~76 modules the course includes, 18 of them, or 23.6%, are about visual design (e.g. “Layout design & spacing” as opposed to “What is lean UX?”).
Of the 1,430 articles on the Nielsen Norman Group website, 30 of them are about visual design, or 2%.
Of the 52 paid courses offered by Nielsen Norman Group, one of them is about visual design, which is also 2%.
Design Principles is a website which collects design principles that are in use by companies. Of the 1,448 principles listed, 66 of them are about visual design, which is 4.5%.
Figma is the tool that the majority of designers use for visual design. Of the 24 recorded sessions from Figma’s Config conference in 2020, none of them are about visual design. Of the 43 recorded sessions from the 2021 Config, none of them are about visual design. Of the 71 recorded sessions from the 2022 Config, two are about visual design, which is 2.8%.