ILLUSTRATION ISN’T JUST ABOUT MAKING THINGS LOOK PRETTY. IT’S AN EXCELLENT WAY OF COMMUNICATING COMPLEX MESSAGES AND GETTING PEOPLE ENGAGED. IN THIS ARTICLE, I DEBUNK THE MYTH THAT ITS TOO HARD AND PRESENT 3 CREATIVE WAYS TO USE IT AS PART OF WEB DESIGN.
I help a lot of clients out with website design. It’s a part of my job that I particularly love, as it’s a very creative space and I love the challenge of conveying a brand’s personality, while also working within the bounds (and possibilities) of the business, the marketing strategy, IT and budget. Especially when working with small businesses, it’s about getting the most with often not much. It’s challenging and yet very rewarding. It’s great fun.
One of the things about web design is that you can’t use a lot of content. People just don’t want to read much on screen.
So the question I am constantly asking myself is: How do I present brand messages in a way that informs and educates while still being engaging, but without relying on content?
I have generally relied heavily on visuals like photos and videos in online communications, but lately I’m starting to find inspiration in illustration (i.e. non-photographic visuals that are used to explain or clarify concepts and ideas).
It’s not that illustration is new to me. In fact, I once used illustrations as part of an internal / corporate communications campaign for an Online Learning System, which worked very well. We used comic strips to create a bit of ‘hype’ and educate people on how they could use it to build their skills.
To be honest, I haven’t yet used Illustration in website design as it’s always seemed a bit too hard and too expensive for my clients. And I think I’m probably not alone in thinking this?
If you’re an illustrator out there reading this, you’ll be pleased to know that I no longer think this. I now know that illustration isn’t so hard to work with, or expensive, so long as you know the right people.
Now that I’m a convert, I’ve been researching businesses who use illustration in website design, and in my travels I stumbled across this great article: 30 Examples of Illustration Styles in Website Design.
I thought I’d share a few key takeaways with you. Perhaps they will give you a few ideas for your website:
1. Dot to Dot
Dot to Dot illustration works well when you have lots of different ideas / elements that you want your audience to link together. So for example, it would work well where you are looking to represent lots of people connections, and how they all link together to form a collective.
I found the illustration below particularly interesting as it’s a very visual way of explaining the business structure, the company culture, and the job opportunity that is available. Potentially the same creative principles could be used for sponsorships, or even for sales.
3. Tabou topics
I love this website. Healthy eating is a subject that’s difficult to broach. It’s a touchy topic that can easily offend. It’s also talked about almost constantly so people tend to either fight it, or switch off. I’ve seen lots of different campaigns to promote healthy eating habits but I can’t say I have ever seen one that I thought would be hugely successful in changing habits.
Until now! By using Illustration, the Kick My Habits website has taken a tired, trite topic and turned it in to something that people would feel comfortable participating in. It’s fun, it’s educational, and it’s engaging. It’s an extremely clever way of influencing behavioural change. Big thumbs up to the Leeds Building Society.
So, have I convinced you yet?! Illustration is a great tool for business communications. I’ve chosen just three examples from the Awwwards.com website but there are many, many more. I’d love to hear your thoughts on which ones you find particularly interesting, and whether this has given you any ideas for your upcoming project.