It is a well-known fact that illustrations can improve the UI/UX design by adding value to the product. They are some of the most sought after features while designing an interface. They are the proven means of interaction that paves the way for better user design and other functionalities while at the same time acts as a tool of communication between the product and the user.
Even though one certainly thinks of functionality as the major aspect of a better UX design, a user’s judgement can be sometimes clouded based on the emotions one feels towards the design. Now, illustrations can support both emotions and functionality thereby acting as the pillars to amplify the UI/UX design.
Illustrations are the means to clarify the meaning of complex concepts, ideas via visual interpretations. They allow the designer to build a narrative for the user to ease him into taking effortless decisions.
For understanding why designers choose illustrations for the web as well as mobile applications, let’s first understand what illustrations exactly are?
What are Illustrations?
In general terms, illustration is a visual interpretation of a piece of a story which can either be a concept, an action, environment, text or anything in the vicinity. One can further define an illustration as an image that aims at supporting the idea behind a particular form of information or a text. The illustration simply sheds light on to the context to make it easy for the user to interpret its actual meaning.
It is something that can add decoration to the piece of concept thereby transferring the message to the user in an interactive manner. Earlier the illustrations were a part of something that has text in it like a book, magazine, poster or newspaper though the technological advancement has now offered it a new meaning by integrating it in the videos, cartoons and the digital streamings.
Illustrations nowadays form the basis of a flexible and interactive design that is used for the web or mobile application development. They are required to offer contextual support to the design thereby paving the way to better engagement, easy understanding, enhanced usability and a fresher appeal.
Benefits of Using Illustrations for UX
According to a survey, the speed of processing an image for a human visual system is just 150ms while understanding the image taken even less than 100 ms. Now, visuals have formed their niche when it comes to processing the information quickly and easy. They form the basis of easy interpretation of the message no matter whether the user can read or not.
Here are some of the exceptional benefits of using illustrations to improve the UX:
1. They Help in Faster Interpretation of the Idea
As per the records, illustrations are an excellent form of communication when compared to other ways. One can easily interpret the message behind the image just by taking a look at it no matter what has been written adjacent to it. Simply put, a picture speaks a thousand words and that stands true for the illustration context.
Illustrations can do wonders when it comes to showcasing the brand image or visually make the users understand the context behind the image. They are the means of making the users understand the meaning hidden behind a picture.
2. Offers an Illusion of Real Communication
Since communicating with the user is one of the most important aspects of a better UX, a designer can make use of illustrations to allow users to navigate the page or app easily. A chatbot with visual illustrations that can answer the required questions at any stage of navigation can help in offering an improved user experience thereby increasing engagement and tweaking interest.
3. Digital Illustrations Adds to Humor
Since making communication easy with the user requires a lot of effort on the designer's part, a little humor that can represent the emotions behind a message or a text can’t hurt anybody. It can sometimes be the saviour when it comes to retaining the users. The designers can make use of interactive and funny illustrations to showcase an error screen, a successful payment, or anything important otherwise. Illustrations can help the designers eliminate the negative aspect of the UX by bringing in the much-needed humor.
4. Can be Used for Adding Elements in Games
Since the millennials are now more prone to mobile screens just for the sake of playing games, the illustrations can help the designer add more elements in the game for offering better user experience thereby retaining the users for a longer time. Interactive design with visual elements can do wonders for gaming apps.
5. Encouraging Users with Storytelling
Since powerful illustrations can drive user engagement for long, they also act as a way of telling the actual story behind the concept. The designer can use interactive illustrations in the UX design to encourage users on board. It's better to see a visual and understand the context than to actually read about it, when the time constraint is short or when it comes to driving users to subscribe or more. The illustrations can easily tell the users how to use the application in a breeze while at the same time keeping them entertained.
6. Help in Creating a Positive Brand Image
Powerful illustrations can act as a basis of implying the actual meaning behind the image. The designer can use powerful illustrations to draw users to use the application while their easy interpretation can help them engage for a long time or come back for more. Whoever designs the illustrations, all of the combined must resonate only one meaning or a particular context related to the image of the brand.
Using Illustrations in User Interfaces
Now, one must understand that an illustration is always a functional element first and then a piece of decoration for the user interface.they are to be sued for making the user interactions easy while adding an overall style to the entire functionality. One can check out the role of illustrations in:
As everyone understands that onboarding is the process of introducing the newcomers to the functionalities of the user interface, the visual illustrations can make them understand the process easily. Interfaces like Slack or DropBox use illustrations to help their users understand the process of signing up and using the software easily. Onboarding makes way for a quick explanation of the features to the users when supported by powerful illustrations.
Another form of illustrations that helps the designers make an interactive UI is the theme. It officially impacts the ideology or the message behind the application. They are the visual metaphors that act as a basis for forming stronger emotional connections whenever the user first interacts with the design. They are bound to create an atmosphere related to the idea behind the entire application while helping the user understand and relate to it easily.
Tutorial illustrations are used to deploy the meaning behind taking a particular action with the use of visual aids. They help the users understand what the screen is asking them to do or what kind of action needs to be performed.
They are useful in devices like smartphones which have a smaller space to add the text and the visual aids can help the users understand what is required on their part or what the screen is telling them about the context.
Illustrations that are used in the form of badges, stickers, reviews stars, medals and more come under the Rewards section. They help in accentuating the overall UI by successfully engaging the target audience. They can be used in the gamification sector where the users feel empowered by winning a game and a medal for the win.
There are many other types of illustrations like entertainment, notifications, mascots, infographics that are the necessary functional elements helping the designers form an interactive UI that drive engagement and retain the users. They have the required power to add emotion to the design, something that should not be missing when connecting with a wide range of audience. They are bound to amplify user interfaces with their storytelling capabilities and make the user understand the message behind the app or any context.