Isn’t it sweet? Mascots in Modern Web Design

Advertisement

The more emotional a site design is, the more likely it is to evoke positive feelings within its visitors. To achieve a lasting impression, designers tend to use visual cues and offer some eye candy for hurried and hectic users. E.g. vibrant color schemes, photos and illustrations can be used to draw user’s attention to some specific site section.

But are there any further options? Yes, there are. Actually, mascots are traditional for sports competitions such as Football World Championship or Olympic Games. Mascot is a more or less nicely designed creature which is symbolic for something and is supposed to evoke sympathy and strengthen the sense of belonging to one single team.

Mascot Screenshot1
Heckert, a handsome wildebeest with typical beard and smart-looking curled horns, is the GNU2‘s mascot.

Today mascots are used almost everywhere3 — e.g. by a number of software applications, groups and communties. It can also support the corporate identity for companies and services. Consequently, they are also becoming more and more popular in web designs.

What Do Mascots Look Like?

Animals and human-like creatures are used more frequently than some abstract creatures. The reason is quite trivial: users are more likely to associate their emotions with something they can easily recognize and find emotional binding to. Abstract creatures need to be studied and understood first. Most users don’t have the time and patience to do that. And that’s definitely not sometihng they are looking for in the first place. Still, abstract creatures are also possible.

As the carrier of positive feelings, mascots usually laugh and transport the feeling of joy, contentment and happiness. To leave a lasting impression, mascots have to look as cute, as sweet, as adorable, as pity and sometimes even as silly as possible. Unfortunately, most mascots have no names; however, having a name is rather usual for large communities as it can be easier referred to.

Mascot Screenshot4
Classic: Livejournal5 still has its famout mascot, Frank the Goat. Frank usually says “Baaaa” and likes to eat pants.

Some mascots are just hand-drawn illustrations, others are combined with a logo. They appear throughout the site and motivate users to some actions — e.g. to visit some site section or fill in the sign-up form.

Mascot Screenshot6
Yigg.de7 uses a hamster as a mascot. The mascot appears everywhere throughout the site.

Illustrations ≠ Mascots

Please notice that an illustration and a mascot aren’t the same thing. Joyent8 and HappyWebbies9 use creatures in the comic-style; they’re not mascots, as different creatures are displayed on different pages. Ellislabs10 also uses illustratoins, not mascots.

Mascot Screenshot11
Joyent

Mascot Screenshot12
HappyWebbies

Mascots in Modern Web Design

A mascot can provide a site design with a fine and nice detail which the site would miss otherwise. This detail is used on private pages as often as in an online-shop or by a web-service. It’s important that the final mascot design is clean and fits to the overall site design. For instance, a laughing beaver doesn’t really help a site which tries to sell some underwater accessories.

We have collected a number of cute, well-designed and visually appealing mascots. The images are linked and lead to the pages from which they’ve been taken.

BobrDobr13

Mascot Screenshot14

Justin Bird15 — animated. Don’t forget to hover your mouse over the bird.

Mascot Screenshot16

Stoodeo17

Mascot Screenshot18

Linksguy19

Mascot Screenshot20

Wishlistr21

Screenshot22

Brent Ayers23

Mascot Screenshot24

NetNova25

Screenshot26

Netmaths27

Mascot Screenshot28

Kent Pribbernow29

Screenshot30

Cork’d31

Mascot Screenshot32

Freelanceswitch33

Screenshot34

Octwelve35

Mascot Screenshot36

GlobalZoo37

Screenshot38

Nü Regime39

Screenshot40

Pasquale D’Silva41

Mascot Screenshot42

Potato Parade43 — Flash. This is an McCain’s advertisement.

Mascot Screenshot44

Goanna Webdesign45 (Flash)

Mascot Screenshot46

Crayons47 — animated.

Mascot Screenshot48

Outshouts49

Mascot Screenshot50

Fluther51

Mascot Screenshot52

Companion53

Screenshot54

Datejs55: Ninjas at work.

Screenshot56

Mooourl57 — the mascot supports the logo.

Screenshot58

Dr. Web Magazin59

Screenshot60

MeinProf.de61

Screenshot62

Vic63 is a hand-drawn mascot of a Medical Rehabilitation Network.

Screenshot64

Amiami Village65

Screenshot66

Sourcebench67

Screenshot68

Classics

Ask.com69 used to have Mr. Jeeves answering users’ questions. The results weren’t always perfect, but Mr. Jeeves always stayed calm and polite.

Mascot Screenshot70

Ask Dr. Z71: in 2006 Chrysler unveiled its “Ask Dr. Z” national ad campaign that features the company’s Chairman, Dieter Zetsche, as the spokesperson and mascot.

Mascot Screenshot72

Should Smashing Magazine have a mascot?

We’d like to know your opinion. If yes, how should it look like? Please let us know in the comments!


Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.gnu.org/graphics/agnuhead.html
  2. 2 http://www.gnu.org/graphics/agnuhead.html
  3. 3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mascots
  4. 4 http://www.livejournal.com/
  5. 5 http://www.livejournal.com/
  6. 6 http://www.yigg.de/
  7. 7 http://www.yigg.de
  8. 8 http://www.joyent.com
  9. 9 http://www.happywebbies.com/
  10. 10 http://ellislab.com/
  11. 11 http://www.joyeur.com/
  12. 12 http://www.happywebbies.com/
  13. 13 http://bobrdobr.ru
  14. 14 http://bobrdobr.ru
  15. 15 http://www.justinbird.com/
  16. 16 http://www.justinbird.com/
  17. 17 http://www.stoodeo.com/
  18. 18 http://www.stoodeo.com/
  19. 19 http://linksguy.com/
  20. 20 http://linksguy.com/
  21. 21 http://www.wishlistr.com/
  22. 22 http://www.wishlistr.com/
  23. 23 http://www.brentayers.com/
  24. 24 http://www.brentayers.com/
  25. 25 http://netnova.com.au/
  26. 26 http://netnova.com.au/
  27. 27 http://www.netmaths.net/
  28. 28 http://www.netmaths.net/
  29. 29 http://www.elitistsnob.com/
  30. 30 http://www.elitistsnob.com/
  31. 31 http://corkd.com/
  32. 32 http://corkd.com/
  33. 33 http://freelanceswitch.com/
  34. 34 http://freelanceswitch.com/
  35. 35 http://octwelve.com/
  36. 36 http://octwelve.com/
  37. 37 http://www.globalzoo.de/
  38. 38 http://www.globalzoo.de/
  39. 39 http://www.nuregime.com
  40. 40 http://www.nuregime.com
  41. 41 http://darkmotion.com
  42. 42 http://darkmotion.com
  43. 43 http://www.potatoparade.co.uk/
  44. 44 http://www.potatoparade.co.uk/
  45. 45 http://www.goanna-webdesign.com/
  46. 46 http://www.goanna-webdesign.com/
  47. 47 http://www.crayons.be/
  48. 48 http://www.crayons.be/
  49. 49 http://www.outshouts.com/
  50. 50 http://www.outshouts.com/
  51. 51 http://www.fluther.com/
  52. 52 http://www.fluther.com/
  53. 53 http://www.companions.com.au/
  54. 54 http://www.companions.com.au/
  55. 55 http://www.datejs.com
  56. 56 http://www.datejs.com
  57. 57 http://www.moourl.com/
  58. 58 http://www.moourl.com/
  59. 59 http://www.drweb.de/
  60. 60 http://www.drweb.de/
  61. 61 http://www.meinprof.de
  62. 62 http://www.meinprof.de
  63. 63 http://www.nrhrehab.org/About+NRH/Meet+Vic+our+Mascot/default.aspx
  64. 64 http://www.nrhrehab.org/About+NRH/Meet+Vic+our+Mascot/default.aspx
  65. 65 http://www.amiamivillage.com/
  66. 66 http://www.amiamivillage.com/
  67. 67 http://www.sourcebench.com
  68. 68 http://www.sourcebench.com
  69. 69 http://www.ask.com
  70. 70 http://www.ask.com
  71. 71 http://www.autoblog.com/2006/06/30/ask-dr-z-national-ad-campaign-for-chrysler-starts-tomorrow/
  72. 72 http://www.autoblog.com/2006/06/30/ask-dr-z-national-ad-campaign-for-chrysler-starts-tomorrow/

↑ Back to topShare on Twitter

Co-Founder of Smashing Magazine. Former writer, web designer, freelancer and webworker. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories.

Advertising
  1. 1

    Cute collection. Thank you!

    0
  2. 2

    That’s so cool, it’s like hi-tech 60′ :))

    0
  3. 3

    Mascots and characters can work really well for branding if done properly and tastefully.

    0
  4. 4

    Jean-Philippe Encausse

    January 15, 2008 7:14 am

    Thanks !
    This post is exactly what I was looking for :-)

    Does anybody know where to find a repository, database, … of modern mascots available for personal websites ?

    0
  5. 5

    It sometimes seems as every FOSS project has its own mascot, from penquins to dragons and devils.
    I got a bit of a shock when seeing the mascot of Crayons, it reminded me of Clippy (the horror!).

    0
  6. 6

    maybe there a squirrel or maybe a chipmunks mascot holding magazines?:)

    0
  7. 7

    Cheers for the feature guys!

    0
  8. 8

    Hi great selection, i’m looking for my own mascott actuelly (actuelly i’m my own mascott ;-) ), this can inspire me, thanks a lot

    0
  9. 9

    What are the common tools used to create and/or animate cartoon-like mascots?

    0
  10. 10

    Yes a mascot would be cute and obviously he should have a large mallet in his hands that is “Smashing” the ground as the the mascot hovers in the air, triumphant from the force of the impact

    0
  11. 11

    what about veerle?

    0
  12. 12

    Some of these mascots can be bought from iStockPhoto.com, like the ones from FreelanceSwitch, Kent Pribbernow and Stoodeo.

    0
  13. 13

    Woah! That’s me! I’m soo delighted to be featured! Thanks! ^_^

    0
  14. 14

    I love my little alien mascot. In fact, the currently unnamed species of alien is part of a re-branding contest I currently have running to help generate name for my freelance design company to be.

    I might be toeing the line on the ‘do not advertise’ aspect, but I hope that giving Smashing Magazine readers the chance to win prizes would be warmly received instead of frowned upon.

    0
  15. 15

    I think a mallet/hammer or an anvil would be a good mascot. I’m not much of an illustrator, so I don’t have an image of one, but either of those would be “smashing”!

    0
  16. 16

    AGREE! Large Mallet, lots of cuteness.

    0
  17. 17

    Great post, as usual!
    And yes, you shoul have a mascot too, they are really cool.

    0
  18. 18

    Vector arts dominates !!

    0
  19. 19

    I hadn’t seen many of these, it’s amazing what quests you people can come up with.
    http://www.justinbird.com/ stood out to me as the best of the lot.
    Check out his portfolio, he mixes flash and html elements fairly well, not quite validating, but…
    Vector Kung Fu specialists rock!

    0
  20. 20

    A lot of those are of a very similar style (Wishlistr, Brent Ayers, Netmaths, Cork’d, Freelanceswitch for example), and whilst that’s no bad thing, it seems like quite a few sites now have them.

    The reason I come back to smashingmagazine.com is the content, and I don’t feel a mascot, however cute or appropriate will make much difference to me.

    0
  21. 21

    What, am I six years old?

    Leave Tony the Tiger on the cereal box.

    0
  22. 22

    I think mascots do work for certain sites. Especially if you want to evoke that “awww” feeling.

    I think Smashing Magazine works well just the way it is. I don’t think it needs a mascot.

    0
  23. 23

    Can inanimate objects be considered mascots? Or must a mascot be in the animal family?

    0
  24. 24

    amazing stuff out there ! and please we’re used to SM surprises, so hit us ^^

    0
  25. 25

    cindy*staged4more

    January 15, 2008 5:19 pm

    What a fun post! I have to say though, several of them look like brothers and sisters ;)

    Cheers,
    Cindy

    0
  26. 26

    I hope you consider a squirrel if you decide to go the mascot route – they just are not enough of them online. They’re pretty much ignored and nobody takes them seriously. But they’re fierce creatures who crack nuts! Your squirrel should definitely crack nuts (a simile for uncovering and exposing great information!)

    0
  27. 27

    Is just me or I smell a Mascot Contest in the future?!

    0
  28. 28

    Please NO Mascot for Smashing Mag!

    0
  29. 29

    Cute collections :)
    I like justin bird the most :)

    and I think smashing doesn’t need mascots i like it just the way it is now, :)

    0
  30. 30

    I’m with Kim (above).. go with a squirrel. Name him (or her) Smashy the Squirrel. I can see a whole line of Smashy the Squirrel merchandise!

    0
  31. 31

    … for sure a mascot would be good, but nothing cute – simply clear

    0
  32. 32

    Please please please please no logo for Smashing!

    0
  33. 33

    This a very interesting subject! Lovely to see all these charactes together. In our business we constantly promote the use of characters to build up the image od a web site, and we have also created a few ones. And of course, we had our Chef mascot for one year and it helped us a lot to get better recognigsed in the Internet. Sometimes the get better than logos!

    0
  34. 34

    I see mascots simply as a means to sell kids something shitty.

    Its not long before a mascot loses its novelty factor – then its endearing qualities are replaced by irritating ones – remember this if you want to use ‘cute’ to attract people to your site.

    p.s death to Tony the Tiger, The Tetley Teafolk and that fucking monkey who turns your milk chocolately.

    0
  35. 35

    yes!!! It is cool

    0
  36. 36

    Love the whale.

    0
  37. 37

    hehe.. that’s a good one! :)

    0
  38. 38

    Does anyone rember “Clarus the Dogcow”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogcow

    0
  39. 39

    You’re mascot shout be a rhino because Smashing Magazine smashes you with force…like a rhino!

    0
  40. 40

    Looks like all these people have too many credits to spend on istockphoto

    0
  41. 41

    Please stick to something simple and something that doesnt look like it was pulled out from Veerle’s library. Perhaps something along the lines of Kid Robot-ish..?

    0
  42. 42

    I don’t know about you guys getting one, mascots on websites seem to be there to make the site more ‘human’ to technophobic users. And I don’t think your readership falls into that category, it just feels like dumbing it down… Just my 2 cents…

    0
  43. 43

    i actually agree with james (#63). Smashing Magazine already has a logo… the S in a box, why add more to it? Sure Smashing talks about trends in the industry, but why follow em if they are only just trends? Trends eventually die out…

    0
  44. 44

    Great blog! :) I have a mascot, which gets mentioned alot.

    I don’t think a mascot would suit this type of blog though.

    0
  45. 45

    Not a fan. Especially of this Illustrator gradient look for the models. They reek of , meh… In most cases. I dont know , just not a fan I guess

    0
  46. 46

    there are some cool mascots on there, I don’t really think the stock vector mascots should be included though…

    0
  47. 47

    why do people that criticize never have a web page link on their name. Great resource.

    0
  48. 48

    Well, it looks like a bunch of people are commenting for free links to their websites, so I’ll do the same. Granted, their “mascots” are completely inadequate (I am THE Mascot, after all). But in general the idea’s a good one, even though those other mascots aren’t as good-looking as me.

    Smashing won’t be able to come up with something as special as me, so they should just stick with the logo.

    0
  49. 49

    Stop spamming your sites guys. Most of them suck anyway. The guys on here deserve it because they are actually good.

    0
  50. 50

    looks like a majority wants a mascot for SmashingMagazine

    0
  51. 51

    Your mascot should be a little fellow who looks kind of crazy with a big hammer.

    0
  52. 52

    Where can I buy these mascot? Also where could I find the tutorial to create mascots like the one that have been listed?

    I think smashing magazine should have a mascot it would be sweet.

    0
  53. 53

    oui je suis d’accord .. je veux tellement une photo pour mon profile :)

    0
  54. 54

    Made a mascot for an online shop to guide through the steps of selecting and purchasing products. I think its a great addition to any site that requires a user to do things in sequential order.

    Microsoft Bob anyone?

    0
  55. 55

    Hello!!
    Ya this mascot and cartoon poster look like really funky style.

    0
  56. 56

    i love individuality…if ur gonna use a mascot, for the love of *&*&! make sure it is something original!

    ;)
    sandy
    megastar media

    0
  57. 57
  58. 58

    this is a great collection !

    0
  59. 59

    Justin Bird looks like a BLUEBIRD

    0
  60. 60

    Where can i get the freelancer for mascot and logo ?

    0
  61. 61

    Justin Bird looks cute dont he

    0
  62. 62

    cool post..

    can u please include a tutorial on mascot creation..

    0
  63. 63

    Anyone knows who the author of the linksguy (dead) site mascot is?

    0

↑ Back to top