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How To Design The Best Characters For Websites

  • Illustrations are powerful tools in web design. Throughout this discussion learn what conventions are best when using them.
  • These conventions when used effectively can make your brand stand out among your competitors.
  • Look over the examples included in this discussion and see how other companies effectively use illustrations.

If you are a web designer, you will likely run into a client that wants a cutesy or cool looking character design for their website. If your goal is to dazzle the client, you need to understand the best conventions when designing these characters.

Everyone loves cartoons. They are so integral to our culture. At some point in your childhood, a cartoon existed to teach you a valuable lesson or skill. Not to mention, the animated figures were always heavy hitters in the advertising industry. It only makes sense that as more business moves online, the animations would follow.

To capitalize on the growing demand, here are some of the best conventions to follow when illustrating characters in a digital space.

Stick With Humans

Illustrations or cartoons can turn a cold or confusing situation into a comforting one. Whatever your business’s or client’s product or service, an illustration often paints a better picture than a bunch of words.

Most businesses overcome a bland or confusing website by effectively using illustration instead of text-heavy pages. When employing this approach, it is best to opt for human characters. It is more familiar and carries the same effect as a cartoon without feeling too much like a novelty.

For example, check out PerfectSearch Media. This company is a digital marketing firm specializing in paid search and SEO. The illustration on their homepage features a human character holding a giant magnifying glass. As a first impression, the illustration conveys a general idea of what the company does in a fun and disarming way. 

Don’t Get Too Complex

Do not get so artsy or imaginative that it wrecks your clarity. In web design, you want your website to be straightforward. Customers do not spend a lot of time on websites, especially if they cannot find what they want. If you communicate a high level of intricacy, that customer will move on to a quicker option. Keep in mind that being obvious is okay when building a web design.

Illustrations are the best tool for establishing clarity to a website. For example, an electric company would use an electrician fixing a light pole, or a clothing company would use a character in a beautiful dress. Whatever the product or service, the illustration on your landing page should add to your clarity to your product or service, not introduce ambiguity.

Funny Animal Mascots Are Okay If

Sometimes your business is straightforward enough already. There is no real need for an introduction because your customers know your product or service before they even hit your landing page. In this case, a cutesy or funny animal character could be the piece that makes you stand out among the crowd.

Most larger brands have the advantage of using animal mascots because everyone is already familiar with their products or services. Geico, for example, can use the gecko because most consumers are already familiar with the company. However, brand familiarity is not a requirement to use this convention.

You can also employ the use of a cuddly creature if your service or product is straightforward. For example, if your service is HVAC, your customers know what you do before visiting your site. So, a fun animal character may help you stand out among your competitors.

Get Your Characters Moving

Animations are next level illustrations, and your website should be taking advantage of them. I know what you are thinking, animation? That seems expensive, challenging, and time-consuming, but I’ll remind you, we are not talking about a full feature film. Small animations add so much to your site.

They work even better if you can use the animation to convey a further message about your brand. For example, if your business is a talent acquisition firm, adding small animations to your human characters to make it appear like they are interviewing adds an extra element.

It gets visitors thinking about the value of your company. In this example, an HR director would see the characters interviewing and start associating your talent acquisition firms with finding candidates for interviews.

Check out how Crisp.chat uses animations.

Tap Into Audience Emotions

Creating Illustrations that invoke certain feelings in your audience is the best way to win them over. You could invoke a wide array of emotions. Just make sure the feeling you invoke works to establish a positive association. For example, if you own a marriage-counseling business, you should try creating feelings of love in your illustrations. When used effectively, you can build a positive association between your customers and your brand, which will build loyalty and keep them coming back.

Check out how matruecannabis.com used a slideshow background and animations to tap into the different emotions of their customers.

We Are Obsessed With Superheroes And So Are Your Customers.

It’s true! We all love superheroes! Plus, cartoons and superheroes go hand-in-hand. Despite your audience, everyone will click with a superhero. When you add them to your web illustrations, there is also some cool psychological effect. Superheroes naturally boost confidence in people, and thus also confidence in your brand. You cannot go wrong by adding a cartoonish superhero to your website illustrations

Mix It Up

The number one mistake most web designers and websites make is they get predictable styles. Predictable is not exciting. When picking a style, try to identify one unique to your overall theme and purpose. None of the previously discussed conventions work unless their style matches the feeling of your brand.

With that in mind, do not be afraid to study what your competitors are doing or even other industries. The goal of an illustration is to add an “x-factor” that makes you stand out among your competitors. If your “x-factor” looks similar to several others, your customers will notice.

Look how species-in-pieces.com captured their style.


Don’t deny the power illustrations can give your website. They add an unrivaled level to your user experience while still remaining adorable. Let your inner child out and start exploring how illustrations could bring the “x-factor” to your website.


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