The value of illustration in corporate web design

on 9th March 2012

(Last updated 13th December 2016)

The value of illustration in corporate web design

We are living in an joyous age where the internet is becoming a much more design savvy and vibrant environment.

The use of illustration is playing a massive part in this and can be seen all over the web in a whole range of sectors. However, the world of corporate web design doesn't seem to be embracing the illustrated approach. I believe they are missing a massive opportunity to really stand out from the crowd.

Illustrate to communicate

Of course, the use of illustration isn't appropriate for every brand, but it is a very powerful option in the designer's tool kit that is too often forgotten. Not only is it an effective means of creating brand differentiation and uniqueness, but illustration can play a very important part in enhancing the information on a website. The very definition of illustration is pertaining to the act of clarifying or explaining. Why then is it overlooked so often as a means of enhancing big reams of content online? Time and budget is a clear constraint, but if editorial publications can do it, why not corporate brands?

The editorial tradition of the "accompanying illustration" is scarce on the web, but it does exists. Commentary sites such A List Apart has a great tradition of illustrating its articles, making them much more inviting to read. More recently Google have taken the bold step of replacing their logo on their home page with a specially commissioned illustration, giving birth to the Google Doodle.

Corporate websites and brands can learn a lot from this and instead of dotting their pages with tired old iStock photos, why not take a few key pages and lavish their readers with the joy of an accompanying illustration? It would make the corporate web world a much more inviting place to be.

Brand differentiation

Traditionally the corporate sector is known for playing it safe. The web is still swollen with corporate sites in blue and white, crammed full of stock images of "suits" with gleaming smiles, everyone knows the design cliché and it does the business and brand no favors. This outdated approach is also misaligned with corporate users, who are as web savvy as anyone else. They are just as likely to be glued to their smartphones and tablets, engaging with beautifully crafted apps and agile online experiences. Yet they are still forced to endure the myriad of outdated and souless corporate websites in their day to day business.

Thankfully there are some pioneers in this ocean of mediocrity:

Future Steps
Berwick Partners
Red Brick Health

Why then aren't more corporate brands capitalizing on this opportunity, by turning to an illustrative approach to create powerful brand differentiation and really stand out from the crowd?

If you have other examples of effective use of illustration in corporate and blue chip web design we would love to see them.

Drop us a line and let us know your thoughts on the subject

This article was posted in Design, User Experience