The effect of imagery on UX design


We humans need just a few seconds to determine the quality, worthiness and reliability of a product based on visuals we see only. The use of images has gained prominence in modern-day marketing and design and has shaped UX on a wide scale. Several studies have been conducted among psychology and marketing experts to gather crucial information on how the human mind works and interprets the visual content as compared to text and other forms of content.

Product designers are increasingly using in-depth research findings to enhance UX designs and capture the attention of consumers. Creating the perfect UX boils down to using the right blend of images and text in a way that will be functional and serve the users goals. Don Norman, in his book, Emotional Design, explains how aesthetically pleasing and quality images can evoke powerful emotions in humans to create a memorable UX, which eventually strengthens sales and brand recognition.

It is no doubt that we human beings are visual creatures in nature. According to Ernesto Olivares website, our brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text, which is why 90% of the data transmitted to our brain is in the form of visuals or images.

Creating a phenomenal UX with visuals

Though there is no hard and fast rule to incorporate images into your design, you can always rely on some proved and tested practices. These principles can enhance your overall UX and boost the effectiveness of your product design by sticking to the following steps:

Images should be relevant to the context

Don’t confuse your readers with an irrelevant image. As we process images much faster than text, you must make sure that the image you use conveys the right message to your users.

Image credit: Gillete Arabia

A bad, misunderstood, or confusing image could actually do your brand more harm than good. So, before you go ahead and place a striking yet irrelevant image, determine the contextual relevance of the visual and see if it aids your project goals.

An image should not ignite any negative feelings and must be understood. Many successful UX designers focus on creating appeal by tapping into emotions of users and catering to their demands through visuals.

Image credit: Apple

Apple used an image of a guy who is swimming while wearing Apple watch series 3. The image sends a clear message to their audience about the water resistance characteristics of their product and it helps the user to take a faster decision regarding buying it, especially if they were looking for a water resistance product.

High-quality images are the key

No matter how great your product is, you won’t find any luck with sales if your images or visuals are average or low quality. A strikingly high definition image can bring your customer to your door.

Image credit: Sacoor brothers

Another point to reflect here is the fast-growing evolution of HD devices. Mobile phones, tablets and countless other devices now offer us the ability to support high definition displays. In your UX design, ensure that whichever image you choose is not pixilated and fits the right ratio or size. You should test the resolution sizes for specific ratios and pick major breakpoints (minimum 4) for device flexibility.

The right responsive design can do wonders for your UX. You must be wondering how is this possible if you are displaying your image on different user devices. It is manually impossible to individually crop and resize images if you are dealing with hundreds of images.

Image credit: Rocket Spark

This brings us to “Cloudinary”, an open-source tool which enables you to manage your entire image pipeline conveniently. The platform offers a wide range of features which can be used to resize, crop, convert and generate perfect-sized images for diverse electronic display devices.

Keep an eye on the effect of colors

Colors also play a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of images. No matter how many high-resolution images you display, the wrong color code can create a feeling of distress or discomfort among users. Human brains are wired to associate certain feelings to colors. For example, green is used to display peace and prosperity whereas yellow can be harsh on the eyes and might provoke negative feelings such as frustration and anger if it was overused in a design.

Image credit: Standard Chartered

The green color in the previous image matches the organization’s logo and it also makes the user feel safe while landing on this page. This is exactly what a bank needs their customers to feel while browsing the bank’s website in order to consider banking with them.

Use the right medium

The most commonly used image types include photography and illustrations. You need to determine which type is more suitable for your brand, and you can use either or a combination in your UX design. To help us understand this further, it is important to note that photography is used to represent an entity, person or a story.

Image credit: Bang & Olufsen

On the other hand, illustrations are mostly used to display metaphors and concepts.

Image credit: Ruya

No matter which kind of medium you opt for, ensure that the message is being conveyed with a clear focus. If your photography or illustration lacks focus, the meaning of the entire image will be lost. In some cases, a photograph or an illustration may be cluttered, you can reduce this clutter by focusing on the meaningful aspects of the image. You can also consider creating a story with a series of images or illustrations such as infographics.

You can also use a combination of photography and illustration within the design if needed. This creates an enhanced aesthetic appeal as long as the images you use are relevant, clean and elegant.

Show real people

You can enhance the credibility of your product or company by incorporating images of real people. This creates authenticity and trust. People connect with people rather than meaningless patterns, so add value to your UX design by including pictures that match your product, the culture of the audience you are trying to reach and are of high quality.

Image credit: Etisalat

Only use images when it’s necessary

You must always add images where necessary. Over-usage of anything can have a negative effect on the UX. Readers may be pleased with beautiful imagery, but they are here to gain useful insight and information regarding your product, so don’t let your images overshadow your product.

Key takeaways to keep in mind

No matter what kind of image or illustration you opt for, always make sure that your images portray your message correctly. Your imagery should focus on your key story and you must avoid the repetition of images.

If consumers have to flip through the same or extremely similar kind of images, this repetition can annoy or even deter them. Therefore, create a storyline and display your message through a series of images. This flow can take your user on a visual journey. To further assist your user, don’t hesitate to use text and headings alongside images.

Keep your images impactful and striking, not only will your user always remember them, but they will also share their delightful UX with others. Use this wide platform of imagery to leverage visual design and unlock your true business potential.




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