Should I Use Photos or Illustrations on Landing Pages?

Know When to Use Photos and When to Use Illustrations on Your Landing Pages, because it definitely affects your conversion rates.

Use Photos or Illustrations on Landing Pages



You will rarely (if ever) come across a business that claims it is satisfied with its conversion rates. Everyone would like them to be just a little bit better, if possible. But with so many elements you can tweak, you may find yourself at a loss as to where to start. 


In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the best ways to use visuals on your landing pages and discussing the illustrations versus photos dilemma.

Remember: no matter how amazing your copywriting is, if your pages aren’t pleasant to look at, you will likely drive some potential clients away before they’ve ever had a chance to read it. 


Illustrations: You Offer a Service

When you offer a service, as opposed to selling a product, illustrations are usually the better choice. While you may be able to use images of your staff and satisfied customers, they won’t actually be able to tell a new visitor what your brand is all about. An illustration, on the other hand, can convey a whole lot of meaning in a single image. 


If you manage to choose the right illustrations (in terms of colors, shapes, overarching theme, etc.), you will be able to showcase the process while also evoking just the right emotions and thoughts.


Let’s take a look at an example. 




AMZ Pathfinder is in the business of Amazon advertising. They could have perhaps shown some smiling faces on their homepage, which wouldn’t have set them apart in any way. Instead, they’ve chosen an illustration that shows them working on all kinds of strategies and answering questions. They’ve skillfully managed to convey a sense of both professionalism and dynamism.


Illustrations: Your Product Is Digital

When you sell a digital product, you’re faced with a unique dilemma. Do you merely show screengrabs of the software or feature photos of people using it? Or, do you perhaps illustrate the process and the results your customers can expect?


In the world of SaaS, illustrations are usually the absolute best choice. Just take a look at most of the major names in the industry, and notice that they’ve chosen illustrations.


The same principle applies here – an illustration can showcase the pain point as well as the solution you’re selling. You can also feature plenty of in-action shots, augmented with your unique illustrative design, and combine the best of both worlds.


Here’s how Flamingo has done it. They feature an illustration of their product on their landing page, which leaves no room for doubt as to what the software will do and what it will look like. 




The color scheme is a stroke of genius as well. It instantly makes the product more vibrant than others on the market; plus, it’s very memorable. 


Here’s another good example of the importance of choosing the right color scheme for your illustrations. Scott’s Cheap Flights has a simple one on their homepage, but it illustrates the brand’s vibe very effectively. 



The soothing colors are very vacation-evocative, and they also manage to convey a sense of trust and security. The animated waterfall is just as effective, and it makes the page much more vibrant and dynamic. 


Illustrations: You Want to Explain a Concept 

One more case of using illustrations rather than photos still applies to the service industry. It pertains to any instance when you want to illustrate a process or a concept that may be difficult to showcase with an image.


Illustrations have the unique power of conveying meaning for non-tangible concepts that may not even exist in the real world. They’ll enable you to show what your brand is about even if there is no photo to back it up.


For instance, you may be offering counseling services. While an image can help, an illustration will be much better at making a visitor feel calm and inspire trust, especially as you will never be able to find a photo that will appeal to every single potential client. 


Beacon House has used illustrations, and they’ve done a marvelous job at conveying a sense of hope and new beginnings. They didn’t have to reach for any additional words. 



Their entire website is done in the same manner, managing to convey pain and suffering as well as relief and hope for a better future.


Photos: You Have a Product to Show

When you’re selling physical products, the choice is practically non-existent. You want to show every product from every angle in as high a quality as possible. This applies to every single 3D item you can think of. Your focus should entirely be on showing the product to the best of your ability, plus providing an action shot, if possible. 


What happens if your product is something personalizable or something unique that entirely depends on the client? We say: still show the product. 


Take a look at what Mixam is doing. This is a brand that happens to sell both a service and a product, if we can categorize it that way. They have still focused on showing their product (i.e., the magazines, books, and pamphlets they print for their clients), even though this is not the exact item you will be getting. 



Providing a photo of the kind of item you can expect to receive is the best solution in this case. 


Photos: You Are Able to Show Your Customers

There’s a specific case when photos speak volumes: showcasing your customers. You might not always be able to ask them for user-generated content, but you can reach for a stock image. Or, you can even hire a model to showcase your product and stand in for a happy customer. 


If you’re using stock images, make sure they are generic enough to fit into your brand but specific enough to convey the meaning you want them to and appeal to your target audience. It may take a bit of trial and error, and you will likely need to purchase your photos. If the photo is just what you need, don’t hesitate to invest in it.


Take a look at Future Kind and their solution. They have a model wearing their branded shirt and posing with their product in the hero section. However, they also feature plenty of social proof of their clients showcasing their product. 

landing page design



This should be the kind of happy medium you are looking for. Find a balance between edited and posed images and something much more organic.


Photos: You are Content-Based

Finally, let’s touch upon another instance when photos are the better choice. If your website is more content-based, your landing pages should ultimately feature photos. Illustrations are fine on business blogs, but if you are just a blog and your word is your “product,” stick to photos. 


In this instance, stock images can be your best ally, as they can be free and rather easy to source. Just make sure you put a bit of a unique twist on them. 


Two Heads Are Smarter Than One, a family-run blog, uses stock images for all their posts. Nonetheless, they are still able to provide some deeper meaning and even an entertainment factor. This post on household chores is a great example of photography making the post a bit less clunky to read.


Final Thoughts  

photos or illustrations



Choosing between photos and illustrations is not as difficult as it seems once you just take a moment to consider the aim of your landing page and what would best convey your message to your target audience. 


When selecting either, make sure you do more than just slap on the first adequate solution. Remember: humans are visual beings, and the wrong image can send them running.