As designers, our primary focus for creating a good user interface (UI) is towards functionality. We get caught up in improving optimizing functionality as much as we can—and that’s great. Focusing on these aspects will help you stay on the right track—but not if you’re missing one crucial element: emotion.
It’s easy to forget that users are humans, making emotions take a backseat to logic. Your UI might have perfect usability and accessibility, but if the user doesn’t feel anything when they visit your website, they might not stay around. They might be even less likely to make a purchase or engage with you in the way you want.
Helping your users feel positive emotions is the most powerful tool for enhancing user experience (UX).
Photos vs. Illustrations
So how can you design your UI to make users feel positive emotions? One answer is that you can use images. The visual representation of an image can quickly make a user understand and engage with your content. However, if you choose photos, they can be tricky to find and fit properly with your design. A great solution is to go for a more abstract and creative approach, and use illustrations instead.
Illustrations are a great resource available to instantly boost your website’s warmth and more accurately represent complex ideas that may be hard to replicate through photos.
Websites like Vectorfair make it extremely easy to find unique illustrations, royalty-free for your own website. Definitely, a huge advantage for you to begin designing your website with illustrations in mind.
Definitely, illustrations are a great resource that every designer should have in their bag of tricks. But you have to use them in the right way. If you only want to use illustrations to make your website “look pretty,” you’re losing the opportunity to do so much more with them.
Thus, here are some tips on how to use illustrations on your website for better UX:
Help Users Understand Your Website
The most important goal for designers is to make users stay on your website, and help them come back to it from time to time. A good onboarding strategy makes it easier for new users to navigate through your website. It also helps them understand the latest features and updates. Using illustrations will hook your users’ attention and get your message across within a short time. You can also use illustrations in tutorials to make it easier for users to interact with your website. Tutorials prevent users from feeling confused or putting in extra effort, which can discourage them from using the website altogether.
Communicate Your Brand’s Personality
Illustrations can help you define your brand’s personality. To connect with users on a personal level and trigger positive emotions, you need to humanize your brand in their eyes. Blocks of text on your website can make your brand appear robotic.
Illustrations add a human touch and communicate your brands’ values with the user. For example, if representation and diversity are part of your values, you can show that through illustrations. Illustrations can help you “say” things that you can’t express in words.
Create a Mascot
Think about GitHub, MailChimp, and Twitter—chances are that you saw the images of the black Octocat, a grinning chimp with a cap, and a light-blue bird. Mascots are not only cute; they’re also memorable. In a world where people have access to thousands of websites, staying memorable is a big deal. If people can recognize and remember your brand, they will come back to it.
Set the Stage
Illustrations are very useful in setting the theme of your website. They help users tune in to the “right mood” when they visit your website. You want users to connect with your website in the first few seconds and feel positive emotions because people have a short attention span online. Most people won’t read the content on your website as soon as they click on it. They’ll scan through the website and decide to stay or leave.
Strong visuals can evoke the feeling that you want to help users stick around. For example, if your brand is about organic personal care products, you want your users to feel calm and peaceful. A minimalistic theme based on elements from nature can help you do that. Here, you can find millions of free illustrations to help you get inspired and match your website’s theme.
Step Up Your Game
Gamification is a popular tool that you can use for better UX. G0amification encourages users to interact with your website through challenges and rewards. Illustrations work very well with gamification as these can be used to help users feel positive emotions through a representation of their progress and rewards.
Tell a Story
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Illustrations embody this concept. Unlike photos, illustrations are created with the intention to convey a message—or, in other words, to tell a story. This takes illustrations a step beyond mere decoration. Each illustration is packed with meaning.
Illustrations can also give context to your words. Often, people misinterpret what they read. An illustration, along with some text, can prevent that from happening. Illustrations can help users grasp concepts that can be difficult to understand through text alone. And remember, the easier you make things for your users, the happier they’ll be. You’ll get more positive emotions and, therefore, more engagements.
Keep It Ethical
Always make sure you have the correct license for the illustrations you or your designer uses. Keep track of your images and their licenses to prevent problems in the future. There are many websites where you can find royalty-free vector illustrations, such as Vectorfair. There is a wide variety of free and paid vector illustrations on Vectorfair that you can use and edit without making them from scratch.
Vector illustrations can level up your website’s UX. At its core, UX is about empathizing with people, meeting their needs in the best possible way, and helping them feel happiness and delight. Illustrations can help you create such an experience for your users and help your website stand out in its own unique way.