10 Unique Illustrations Styles

With each product we design, we tell a story to our users. Illustration is something that allows us to tell a richer story.

Well-designed illustrations can enhance your brand experience and help you to create a very personal connect with your users.

Unique custom-made illustrations help brands to distinguish themselves from the crowd

Illustrations are perceived faster than text so users may cover the key message quickly. That’s why illustrations can be good for landing pages, onboarding and tutorials. But illustrations can also be used for error states — well-crafted illustration can easily explain what an error message means in glance.

In this article, I want to cover ten unique illustration styles.

1. Slack

Slack is a collaboration tool for business. In 2017, Alice Lee worked on Slack redesign; her team introduced a new illustration style that was intended to personalize the brand by showing people in illustrations. At that time, it was one of the first companies that followed such approach.

Slack (2017). Image: Alice Lee

Slack team is continuing to experiment and bring new ideas into their design.

Slack (2019). Image: Sergio Membrillas

2. Dropbox

Since Dropbox started over 10 years ago, illustrations were the natural part of the product. Dropbox uses illustration to bring life to the product.

Dropbox illustrations (2017)

The new illustration style which was introduced in 2018 follows a relatively simple approach — loose, handmade, witty drawings deliver the key message and create a truly memorable experience for their first-time users. The great thing about Dropbox illustrations is that they make it easier to establish a connection with users — when we see such drawings, they remind us that real human beings are behind this product.

Check the ‘Evolving the Dropbox Brand’ for more information on new Dropbox design:

Evolving the Dropbox Brand

3. Oscar

Oscar Health is a service that allows you to get more from your health insurance. The company incorporated a friendly team of illustrated personnel within its visual identity.

Oscar Heath (2018)

Oscar integrated illustrations both on macro- and micro- design levels. For example, the icons that the team uses on various pages were created based on the same illustration style.

Oscar Heath (2018)

4. Etsy

Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies. The company uses bold illustrations with funny characters. Even though illustrations aren’t primary elements of the design, they still create a memorable experience for site’s visitors.

Etsy (2019)
Etsy (2019)

5. Notion

Notion is a tool that blends your everyday work apps into one. The home page of this tool is full of statements such as ‘With Notion, all your work is in one place’ and the company uses illustrations to show what each statement really means. Illustrations show that Notion isn’t just a tool — it’s a living workspace that brings teams and ideas together.

The one thing that differentiates Notion from any other brand in this list is that all illustrations that the team uses are black & white.

Notion (2019)
Notion (2019)

6. MailChimp

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform and an email marketing service. MailChimp’s mascot is one of the most familiar illustrations in the product design industry— most of us saw this friendly chimp at least once.

Mailchimp (2001)
MailChimp (2008)
MailChimp (2013)

In 2018, the team conducted a redesign. They introduced a new style of illustrations — flat illustrations.

One noticeable thing about MailChimp’s new style is using vibrant yellow color to direct user attention. As a result, on many pages copy takes a backseat while the illustrations make the point.

MailChimp says “Cut out the busy work with automations” and pairs this messages with this illustration.

7. Digital Ocean

Digital Ocean is an cloud infrastructure provider. While the most companies this list use only one style of illustrations, Digital Ocean uses two different techniques of illustration. For the homepage, they use 3D illustrations. Such illustrations make it easier to deliver the message that the system scales to meet people needs.

Digital Ocean (2019)

Digital Ocean uses flat illustrations with vibrant colors for their blog. Such illustrations bring visual interest and make people read more.

Digital Ocean (2019)

8. Shopify

Shopify is an e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Shopify uses illustrations to cultivate a relationship that is more emotional, rather than just professional.

Meg Robichaud shares a lot of details about the process that the team followes to achieve this result (check her blog on Medium).

Shopify actively uses metaphors to deliver the key idea. For example, the illustration below makes it clear that the platform is accessible for customers with all abilities.

Shopify (2019)

9. Intercom

Intercom produces a messaging platform which allows businesses to communicate with prospective and existing customers within their app, on their website, through social media, or via email. Intercom is an excellent example of a site that uses illustration as a supplement to written content. Illustrations playfully describe and reinforce the message in the text.

Intercom (2017)

Recently, the company introduced a new illustration style. Instead of anthropomorphic giraffes and walruses Intercom started to use illustrations of people who use the service. The great thing about this approach is that when users see such illustrations, they start to believe that people in the illustration can be them.

Intercom (2018)
Intercom (2018)

10. Duolingo

Duolingo is a language-learning platform that includes a language-learning website and app. Illustrations play a vital role in Duolingo user experience. Duo (the friendly owl) guides and motivates users as they complete exercise. Many users ended up feeling emotionally attached to a tool.

Duolingo (2016)

Recently, Duolingo team made a redesign. The team wanted to create a more intuitive look for their illustrations, and design even more engaging and fun experience for their users.

Duo’s evolution over the years
Deconstructing Diolingo’s illustrations

Tools for creating your own illustrations

It’s evident that not every product design team can hire an illustrator. Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help you create an illustration for your product. Check the following collection:

Illustrations | UX Pro

10 Unique Illustrations Styles was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.