top of page

5 Elements of an Effective Concept Illustration

Used to develop and evaluate your idea internally, test and validate your idea externally, or pitch your idea for stakeholder buy-in, a concept illustration plays a vital role in your idea's fate.

The purpose of a concept illustration is to communicate your product idea.

So an effective concept illustration is one that communicates your idea in a clear and compelling way.

If your concept illustration is flawed, so too will be your idea's evaluation.

An effective concept illustration:

1. Is Aimed at your audience

Who are you needing to communicate your idea to? Your answer to this question will determine:

  • The visual language (in other words, the type and fidelity) of your illustration

  • Which aspect(s) of your idea (i.e. its functionality, styling, experience, ergonomics, etc.) you focus your illustration on

  • The tone of your labels and descriptions

Aiming your concept illustration at your audience will ensure your idea resonates with them.

2. Explains what your idea is

What is it? What is your big idea?

  • Make sure your illustration gives your audience a comprehensive understanding of what your idea is and how it works.

  • Choose the views, details, and descriptions that will give your audience all of the information they need in order to understand your big idea.

Using your concept illustration to explain what your idea is will make sure it is properly understood.

3. Explains what benefit your idea provides

Why should they care? What's in it for your customer?

  • An effective concept illustration will communicate why your big idea matters.

  • Make sure your illustration shows off what your idea allows your customer to do that they hadn't been able to do without it.

Showcasing your idea's benefit in your concept illustration will explain the value it offers.

4. Is Free of distractions

Your audience will latch onto discrepancies, extraneous details, and gaps in your concept illustration, leading their evaluation and conversation to be focused on these distractions instead of your idea.

  • Don't put details or information in front of your audience that you don't want them to deliberate on.

  • Comb your concept illustration for discrepancies and then test your illustrations with people who match your audience's archetype to find and resolve issues you didn't catch.

  • Look for gaps or missing pieces of information. Your audience will get hung up if your illustration does not answer their big questions.

A concept illustration that's free of distractions will keep all of your audience's attention focused where you want it, on your big idea.

5. Speaks for Itself

You won't always be standing beside your concept illustration (and shouldn't need to be) to present it.

  • Make sure your concept illustration includes all of the views, details, and descriptions needed for your audience to understand what it is and what benefit it offers

  • Set up your concept illustration to draw your audience's eyes into and then through your page.

A concept illustration that speaks for itself will communicate your idea no matter how far it travels.

So next time you or your team are preparing concept illustrations, make sure you factor in these 5 elements of an effective concept illustration to ensure that your product idea is communicated properly.


Concept illustration is our specialty.

If your innovation team could use some extra bandwidth,

come have a look at the engagements we offer.

They're all aimed at helping you innovate more and stress less.


Like what you see?

Receive an email once a month
showing the process behind one of
our innovation projects

bottom of page