What is whimsical design?
A Whimsical graphic or website design is one that creates a feeling of playfulness or fun. It is a popular trend in graphic and website design right now, being featured on such sites such as XHTML Cafe , Inservo and Pixelbaecker. Probably the most prominent site using whimsical illustrations right now is Dropbox, and surely at some point you’ve clicked on an animated Google Doodle with a whimsical touch!
When to use whimsical design
A whimsical design is not a one size fits all design solution. It is better suited to some subjects than to others. For instance, it would be an unusual choice for a very high-tech site used by professionals. In the case of Dropbox, the service being offered is a technical one: cloud storage and online sharing of files. It is, however, a service that is being targeted not just to professionals, but users who do not have much experience in IT. It works because the simplistic, quirky illustrations and hand-lettered typeface, although sparingly used, gives the landing page a warmth and friendliness to make newcomers to cloud storage feel at home.
Whimsical design is a natural fit for sites catering to certain markets and demographics. It’s a popular choice for personalized wedding websites, and sites for children. This mobile service provider uses a great combination of quirky drawings and animation to create a fun feeling to attract customers.
How to create a whimsical design
There are a few key elements to a whimsical design which will work equally well on a web page or in a printed graphic design.
We usually picture hand-drawn pictures or cartoons when we think of whimsical design, and that is in fact one of the key components of this trend.
This drawing representing the Internet of Things, for instance, uses very simply drawn, brightly colored pictures to represent the ways in which various things around the world can be connected together to exchange data. It’s a big, complicated topic, but this playful approach to illustrating how it works can make it easier to understand.
Watercolor is another common element to whimsical design.
Notice the line drawing of the hearts, with the little curlicues so typical of whimsical illustration, and see how the water coloring strays outside the lines. That sort of imperfection is part of the appeal of the whimsical style.
Handwritten or swirly typography is another key element of whimsical design. There are many examples of it on the websites linked above. You will be able to find one that suits your whimsy on any number of websites.
Should you use whimsical design?
A whimsical approach does not work everywhere, of course. But where a playful, light-hearted approach is desirable, this fun design trend isn’t going anywhere in a hurry!