Delete those visual metaphors.

I’ve worked on two projects recently which have gone to town with images, which have little relevance or usefulness to the user. It’s an easy pitfall. Text can look boring, and often that’s true, it is boring, but as sites are becoming more content focussed and task led these images are disappearing from our content, and that’s a great thing.

Should websites scrap images altogether unless illustrating a piece of content? Certainly.

Images and adverts hinder the overall user experience.

Yes, it certainly depends what kind of site you’re designing. For the purpose of this article we’re talking task led and content focussed sites. Let’s start with the obvious one. They banned the use of visual metaphors in a huge way and the content has benefited greatly because of it.


Some would say the site has little character and that’s missing the point. Can you achieve your task easier and quicker? Is it less of a headache to use? Yes. Scanning content and flicking between the visual metaphors associated with that content can be exhaustive, and mean you miss the most important part of the content.

We should be simple and clear in all our communications. Visual metaphors which are overused tend to hinder communication rather than help it. – GDS Design Principles

It’s the classic customer services link with an attractive lady smiling while wearing a microphone. Or the one about how we love our customers, with two guys in suits shaking hands. That’s all yucky.

What you should focus on.

If you’ve gone straight into Photoshop, HTML, Sketch and whatnot you’ve made the first mistake. IA plays such a fundamental role in the design that it’s often underrated. Try letting your designer get out of Photoshop and into Balsamiq or Omnigraffle. Give them the task of designing the site with no colour, no images and no visual design.

We need to identify the key “priority” tasks users want to achieve. If we try and maintain a task led approach, we’ll save users time and effort, producing a happier experience.

Not this:

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 15.11.32