Using illustration in your business web design can help you stand out in a visual landscape filled with the same perfect, airbrushed stock images. Stock photography is an easy option, which is why so many brands gravitate towards it over commissioning something original – making themselves virtually indistinguishable in the process.
Illustration, on the other hand, can offer a range of creative implementations, from improving your brand visually to aiding communication. Here are five ways to use illustration to its full potential in your business web design.
5 Awesome Ways to Use Illustration in Your Business Web Design
1. To establish a theme
An illustration is an ideal way to establish an overarching theme on your website. A mountain range, woodland, an office space, a bustling city – where are we? Giving your website a distinct theme or location can help to influence the design in a profound way, making illustration the leading element, rather than an afterthought. Done right, the theme should work together with the content to create a seamless, meaningful aesthetic.
Take a look at the example below, which would make the perfect thematic backdrop for a youthful snowboarding or winter sports brand.
2. To tell a story
But it’s not just about aesthetic appeal and uniqueness – illustration can also be used to tell stories. Illustrated slideshows and storyboards are the perfect way to get your message across to users in a clear and appealing way. Not only do visual stories have the power to connect with viewers on a more emotional level, they are also much more effective at demonstrating how your brand, product, or service can make a difference.
A good example of illustration being used for storytelling is Slack. On its features page, illustration is used to give context to how their software can be used, for instance, having searchable team conversations and adding apps to streamline your workflow.
3. To create a character
Character illustration involves creating a person, animal, or mascot that represents your brand. Characters are the ideal way to humanize your brand and bring more personality to your website. A talented illustrator will be able to take your brief and create an original character that appeals to your target audience, giving you a firm hook to build your brand identity around.
There are a lot of brands that use characters or animals in their branding, from Hootsuite and Deliveroo to MailChimp and Moosend.
Email marketing company Moosend also uses character illustrations to personalize its customer reviews in a unique and quirky way, bringing the contributors to life while adhering to the brand’s personal style and colour scheme.
4. To make a statement
While illustration may not be the perfect stylistic choice for everyone, it’s a powerful tool that’s often discounted for fear of being too quirky or ‘an expensive luxury’. But illustration isn’t just about making your website look good; it can also be used to accompany important information, enhance meaning, and make a statement. For example, with its Google Doodles, Google took to replacing its homepage logo with individually commissioned illustrations that mark events and important days in history – even going further with animation and playable games on occasion.
Below is the Google Doodle that was commissioned for clockmaker John Harrison’s 325th birthday.
In particular, there’s much that corporate websites and brands have to learn from this approach. We’ve seen the same tired stock photos used countless times, where an accompanying illustration would have been a much more bold and distinctive choice. Which brings us to:
5. To differentiate your brand
The corporate sector loves to play it safe, and this often extends to their branding: the classic blue and white colour scheme, the polished photos of smiling, suited, soulless employees. This approach is perilously outdated – and since the target market for corporates is just as youthful and web savvy as any other user, it makes sense to offer the same beautiful, agile online experience as more forward-thinking brands. Illustration offers a powerful brand differentiation tool – one that gives you a unique, inimitable look.
Here are some good examples of corporate brands who weren’t afraid to incorporate the bold use of illustration in their web designs:
The art of illustration has been around for centuries, but even in the modern day, it’s application to online branding and web design is clear. With illustration, brands have the ability to add warmth, personality, and unique look to their sites, quite unlike those that rely solely on generic stock imagery. Before you make excuses – too expensive, too crazy, too little control – consider what kind of statement you really want to make and whether illustration could help you get there.
Victoria Greene works as a brand consultant and freelance writer. Her blog, Victoria Ecommerce, is dedicated to helping business owners make the most of all online channels to draw in new and loyal customers.