Uber, Dropbox, Slack, Airbnb and many other respectable companies bet on illustrations. The reason? They all believe that an illustration is not only an adornment to a product. It’s also a powerful tool that can help increase vital business metrics, eg. conversion rates.
Our team at Netguru shares the same beliefs. We also know that first impressions matter - researchers’ most optimistic conclusion give us only 7 seconds to build a good initial image. Some researchers claim it might be only a tenth of a second.
So we decided to prove our case by a concept introduced to an existing website. We wanted to show what a difference we can make if we replace photos with illustrations.
For our redesign concept we took the website of Funding Circle. To clarify, Funding Circle did not participate in our project, but we didn’t choose them by accident.
Funding Circle’s website is well thought out, well-structured, and the message it tries to convey is clear. That allowed us to focus only on the impact on user experience with our illustrations-for-photos swap.
Here's what the actual homepage of Funding Circle looks like
Secondly, Funding Circle is a fast growing fintech company, one of the leaders in P2P lending in Europe. Our team at Netguru has both a soft spot for fintech and financial projects and a substantial experience in the industry.
Funding Circle works as a middleman - connecting investors with business owners via its platform. To date, 80,000 investors in Funding Circle have lent out over £5bn to 50,000 companies. The company employs over 1,000 experts and operates in four markets (UK, US, Germany, and the Netherlands), eyeing further international expansion.
In September the fintech company debuted on the London Stock Exchange at a valuation of £1.5bn.
Here's how we redesigned the Funding Circle's website using illustrations.
Before we sat at the drawing desk, we started a diligent research phase. We wanted our concept to support Funding Circle’s vision for their product, rather than interfere with it.Thus, we needed to understand the complexity of their services, Funding Circle’s values, customer base, business needs, and brand.
The final ideas for the illustrations were influenced by Funding Circle’s chronicling of how and why they changed their logo. At the moment, their logo consists of four parts, each representing their business owners and investors - a kind of large wheel built with the effort of many individuals. Sounds like a company that, thanks to the contributions of many people, can support businesses and whole markets.
We focused on moodboards (collections of inspirational and reference images - see below) that would reflect Funding Circle’s main concepts. They are very forward and forthcoming in their branding, so we wanted to focus the designs on the idea of “many individuals building businesses together”. We chose abstract forms and simple shapes - eye-pleasing and attention-grabbing, as our goal was to make a good first impression.
Our main goal was to show the underlying values of Funding Circle through illustrations - how people can support each other in building businesses and have a positive impact on the world. We started with a series of sketches based on Funding Circle’s website. Sketching helped us choose the basic shapes we wanted to use before we moved on to the details. Doing things in this order is important if the designs are meant to be cohesive.
Finally, the colours we used were carried over from Funding Circle’s website and based on their logo (mainly purple tones in branding).The end result is a redesign concept that has the potential to cleverly engineer the first impression and start on the right foot when building relationships with customers.
It’s not that we hate stock photos. They are a great tool in many cases, yet they have become too ubiquitous to stand out. A custom illustration, on the other hand, is created for a set purpose - you can show something specific, like a product feature or brand promise.
Effective presentation can help with conversion and retention, make a website or app more user-friendly, promote word-of-mouth marketing, have a positive impact on social media engagement, and boost ROI. That’s a lot of powers packed into simple visuals.
Obviously, this effect can be achieved in different ways - eg. a blank web page with a single red button can be very attention-grabbing, carefully selected photos are not to be underestimated, either. The important part is the strategic intent, not the tool.
That was the case with Funding Circle - we left some pictures untouched. But only those showing people who got support from the UK fintech company. They are a strong proof and it would be hard to replace them with an illustration.
But if you ask us about the right approach to visual presentation, we go for illustrations.
If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com!
Read more on the impact of illustrations: