Web-site visuals and graphics are, broadly speaking, any non-textual part of a web-site: an image, photo, video, etc. Sometimes the term 'visuals' also includes text, as letter are, in fact, also images, the appearance of which - size, colour, line length and number - can vary.
Visuals are used to make a web-page more attractive, as well as to help a user find whatever he/she needs faster, as colourful images are good at drawing attention. Besides that, visuals allow explaining complex ideas in a simple way. Thus, to show complex relations between to processes, web-sites often use charts.
Illustrations are a type of visual tools, usually drawings, images or photographs, that are used to explain a certain idea visually, illustrate it. Thus, for example, an image of an apple besides a text about apples is an illustration, as its main purpose is to show how the described object looks.
Illustrations are also distinguished by the fact that, for them, the content is more important than the artistic value of an image. Thus, a photo of an apple is a more precise (therefore better) illustration of an apple, than a drawing of one, even is the drawing is artistically more pleasing.
An artistic image is a drawing or a photo, the main purpose of which is to be artistically pleasing, to decorate the web-site. Compared to illustrations, the task of artistic images is not to depict a certain object or idea in the most precise way, although it can also dot hat. Usually, artistic images are chosen according to the overall design of a web-site, not according to text or other content. Thus, for example, a decorative image of bananas, kiwis and pineapples is suitable on a fruit-dedicated web-site, even if a particular page is about apples.
A point is a type of visual tools, that draws attention to a certain part of a page or content, points to it. The main task of a pointer is to stand out, so that the user can easily notice it. Another task of a pointer is to point at the right place - sometimes it must draw attention to itself, but sometimes to a certain piece of nearby content. Although a pointer does not necessary need to be artistically pleasing, it is always worth making it fit into the overall design of web-site, or the page risks looking unprofessional.
Visual website examples
You can read our articles concerning website design analysis to discover real-life examples of how various types of visuals are being incorporated into a design, as well as to read the analysis reports for these website designs.