Pros and Cons of Both Photographs and Illustrations for Business Website
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Photographs or Illustrations. Which is better for your Business Website?

TransFunnel Consulting
TransFunnel Consulting Nov 20, 2019

Think of the things that make you say, “Yes, this is a well-designed website” or “I can trust this business.”  A lot of it comes down to whether we can literally see what we are looking for, which could be pictures of products or models depicting concept products or service. Visuals play an important role in driving our judgement. 

Did you know that approximately 65% of the world population are visual learners? 

We would also prefer a website with visuals over a website with none at all. 


Visuals are powerful storytelling tools that can strike the right chord with our audience. They also help marketers explain information, build brand identity, and build a connection. Visuals elicit emotional responses and memories that can make them very engaging and effective. 

32% of marketers say that visual images are an important part of their marketing content. 

Additionally, strong, and smartly used visuals are convenient, make it easier to process information, create positive user experiences, and keep the customers coming back. Lastly, visuals can transcend cultural and language barriers, whereas, with text, we know that a lot can get lost in translation. 

“When people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.” Brain Rules

Since the inception of the Internet, photographs have been commonly used as the primary visual medium by sales and marketing teams. However, there has been a rise in the number of businesses turning to illustrations as their preferred visuals. Good illustrations have the ability to engage and excite visitors, and make you stand apart from the competition. 

Both photographs and illustrations have their set of pros and cons. Therefore, knowing when to use real photographs or illustrations is the trick to designing a website or marketing collateral, aptly tailored to your marketing goals. Selecting the right approach has a massive impact on influencing your target audience. 

Our team of designers at Transfunnel have put together some tips on when one medium should be used over another. 


We all know this infamous quote all too well, don’t we? 

It truly captures the essence and power of what photographs can mean and do for a business. Photographs catch the eye and get the audience clicking. Instagram has built their entire platform leveraging the power of photographs. Photographs on your website also authenticate your brand. Let’s dig deeper into understanding why and how to use photographs in your website design. 

When to Use Photographs

Establish Credibility If you are in the business of selling tangible products, then definitely use photographs.


Using actual photographs of products provides a sense of security and reality to customers. Photographs provide the consumers with something they can quickly and easily associate with. Don’t you feel better, more reassured, about placing an order when you are able to see an actual picture of a dish on the menu? That’s the power of photographs. Also, imagine seeing a category page with hundreds and hundreds of illustrations has the potential to confuse the customer. In the world of e-commerce, it is best to stick to photographs and build that credibility. 

Make it Personal  Using photographs, especially of people, on a website immediately makes the website more relatable and personal. Looking at pictures of children playing on a PreSchool site, I  would surely think, “oh, that could be my child there.” The same feelings can come up while seeing pictures of current employees on a company’s career portal. I could be a part of this organisation. Photographs make a company more approachable and personal. 

Serious Topics Always go for photographs when you are addressing a more serious issue. In such instances, illustrations can often be looked at as being more informal and ensure that your brand is making light of a serious issue. There is a reason as to why you will always find photographs used in news articles and websites. 


Recently, the use of illustrations as a dominant visual medium has seeped into business websites. According to InVision, a top design firm, illustrations have become the key design trend with the majority of their customers preferring illustration-based designs. Modern websites are using illustrations as their primary visual feature. Dropbox, CrowdRise, and Slack are few of the latest brands to turn illustrations. The latest web design trends state that the impact of illustrations is 7 times that of a photograph. Let’s understand when it is appropriate to use illustrations. 

When to Use Illustrations 

Instant Appeal  Unique illustrations have to ability to excite the customer and stimulate curiosity because they create an elicit an instant reaction. Also, illustrations in web design have a fun, more creative connotation to them. Lighthouse Brewing Company is an excellent example of a business using an illustrations based website to create instant appeal instead of using regular product pictures.  

Stand Out in the Crowd

Illustrations are great when you want to tell a story. Illustrations using mascots or characters create a cohesive theme and can take customers on a journey that involves using a bit of their own imagination. The infamous “Amul Girl,” from Indian dairy giant Amul, is a clever use of using a mascot that is oozing with personality and gives the brand a recognisable brand identity. It is also easier to add a “feel” or “mood” to your website through illustrations than it is with photography. 

Make the Intangible Tangible:

If your business offers something that is hard to pin down, like a service, lifestyle, or idea, then you should seriously consider custom illustrations. Illustrations work wonders and are the best way to present a conceptual product or project because they simplify the abstract. For example, One Design Company uses custom illustrations to explain exactly what services they offer and how. They use 

Present Data:

Data is hard to display and explain. A visitor can get easily bored and bounce if they see just numbers and figures, one after the other. Using illustrations to develop infographics breaks the monotony and is just as effective in presenting facts in a clear and concise manner. Yes, graphs and charts are also effective ways of communicating data, but they lack the ability to engage the audience which is of utmost importance in web design. 

Quick Recap

The design and aesthetic of your website are linked to your inbound marketing efforts. You can have huge budgets for Google Ads, but if your website is not up to the mark, then you probably won’t see the expected ROI. Photographs and illustrations are more than just “eye-candy” in website design, they have the power to tell stories, explain concepts, and create a connection with the visitor. Depending on your business and marketing goals, opt for either photographs or illustrations or even a mix of both for your website, because there isn’t a set formula that fits all.


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