In the age of fast information consumption and high distraction, illustration is king. It often quite literally forms the difference between a user interacting with your product and choosing to invest time and money into it, or disregarding it entirely. Why? Pictures are simply easier to remember than text, and their message is clear to people in different languages. Moreover, a large part of our brain is devoted to visual processing.
Today, I wanted to focus specifically on the role of illustration in UI. To begin with, it’s important to state that like any other UI component, illustration should form a functional element of the user interface, which is why it is important for designers to understand when and how to use it. Below are just a few examples of when illustrations can bring benefits to user experience:
1.Creating visual triggers to prompt the completion of a call to action
Custom graphics like icons and illustrations can very effectively guide users through their journey on your digital platform, towards the call to action.
Many digital products, including large players such as Slack or Monday.com use illustration for onboarding purposes in order to quickly explain the features to users and to make the interface more lively.
Similarly, tutorials or tooltip illustrations provide very useful visual prompts to show users what needs to be done in order. They can work particularly well on mobile devices which have a limited screen space, and can be especially useful in apps targeted at young people.
Illustration can also be used directly to encourage a user to perform a given task. Webflow does this effectively, through comical illustrations which guide the eye to a CTA button.
2. Supporting the text on a website or mobile app
Very simply, blocks of text without visuals can be extremely dull. It’s important to remember that when users read text on a screen, they rarely read it in detail – instead their eyes naturally scan for the key concepts. If their screen is filled with lengthy paragraphs, it’s highly likely that they will get bored. Using illustrations, designers are able to communicate the essence of their message much more effectively.
Below is an example of a page designed for Eddu Project, which combined illustration with text layouts to engage users:
3. Effective storytelling
Illustrations are brilliant when it comes to supporting effective storytelling. If you think back to children’s books – a huge part of the fun of reading them was seeing the scenes brought to life on the page. Many of them would lack a certain sense of magic without the pictures.
Well, businesses have long realized this, and have long ago started to use illustrations in order to bring their brand to life. One of the best examples is Red Bull, which back in the early 2000s, introduced animated commercials in which loosely drawn characters with large noses comically conveyed the effects of drinking the product.
So why is storytelling through illustration effective? Well, largely this comes down to showing things that can be fairly difficult to explain in words. Secondly, it taps into emotions – seeing RedBull’s lightheartedness, buyers are more likely to try the product in order to test whether it truly has the impact that is promised in the cartoon.
4. Communicating brand or personality
Every business-owner’s challenge is to make their product or service stand out above the competition, and illustrations, when used effectively, can form an integral part of your brand – so much so, that when users see them, they immediately connect them to you.
Some companies go as far as using mascot images, which are specific illustrated objects associated with your product or brand. Among the most recognizable brand mascots of all time are the Michelin Man, and Mickey Mouse by the Walt Disney company.
What’s important here is consistency, which helps users become accustomed to your brand and builds trust – it creates expectations for a business to meet, and buyers reward these met expectations with loyalty.
Looking for illustrations that will help bring your brand to life? We can help. Our highly-skilled, experienced design team can help. Just drop us a line on hello@10Clouds.com, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We’ll make your digital product shine!