By nature, backgrounds don’t get enough attention—but any designer will tell you they’re an essential part of creating a website. Website backgrounds set the tone for your design, acting as an integral part of user experience and overall success.
In this article, we’re going to run through popular types of website backgrounds and the impact they have on visitors. Plus, we’ll provide expert tips on how to choose one and use it in a way that will result in an impressive website design.
Website backgrounds 101
In web design, a background is one of the most basic elements of a site—so basic, its significance can often get overlooked. But in reality, it’s a powerful tool shaping how visitors experience your site, and choosing the perfect backdrop should be a well thought out process.
A website background can be an image, color or pattern that is used on a webpage, while other website elements sit on its foreground. More than just a visual asset, a website background is a great tool that can help you emphasize certain aspects of your site, set the tone for your brand and enhance its user experience.
As you browse through the variety of styles laid out below, keep these two main approaches in mind:
A body background is one that encompasses the whole screen. This encompasses images, video, solid colors, etc.
A content background, on the other hand, is when the background design does not take up the entire screen, but surrounds other important content like images, influencing the website layout.
Types of website backgrounds
As web design trends continue to evolve, so do the background possibilities. There are plenty to choose from, and deciding which is best for your own design is an exciting endeavor. Below, we’ll go over each of these by pointing out the individual benefits along with examples to help visualize the potential of your design.
Gradient website backgrounds
Gradient backgrounds are part of an ongoing trend, with roots in the ‘90s aesthetic. By gradually blending a combination of colors, gradients create an engaging and modern visual experience. One of the added values of gradient design is its versatility—sometimes blending similar shades of the same hue, and alternatively using completely different complementary colors.
Whatever style of gradient you choose, this type of background means the focus of your design is color. You can add unusual hues to create a unique scheme, or make a gradient out of your brand colors to add strategic flavor to your site.
Website backgrounds with solid colors
Solid colors = a solid website background choice. When using this type of website background, you leave little opportunity for visual clutter. A solid colored background will ensure a clean and organized web design, and will likely help users with readability.
You can select any color of the rainbow, a classic white background, or opt for a dark website theme by using black. Either way, make sure your hues are aligned with your site’s brand identity. If you’re an established brand, a freelancer or blogger, you’ll want this color to complement your personality as much as the rest of your design.
Animated website backgrounds
Adorning your website with movement is sure to keep visitors on your page for longer. Whether it’s adding high quality videos or motion graphics as your site’s background, the interactive nature of these lively visual tools can improve your site’s design and provide an attractive user experience, too.
Since movement is easily overwhelming, consider carefully how your background can engage with users without distracting them. Using a video background, for example, is a great way to introduce visitors to your brand, while motion graphics offer a trendy and captivating effect when implemented correctly.
Pro tip: If you don’t want your background fully animated, but still want to make an impact with motion, try incorporating effects like parallax scrolling. This web design technique, in which the website background moves at a slower pace than the foreground, results in an immersive 3D effect that subtly improves the user experience.
Graphic website backgrounds
Apart from their alluring nature, graphic backgrounds offer the chance to complement the content of your site. From graphic imagery to abstract designs—this type of background can help tell a story that represents your brand.
With so many graphics to choose from, it’s important to find one that’s consistent with the overall theme of your website’s design, so you don’t confuse visitors. With the advancement of graphic design tools, you should have no problem implementing a graphic background of high quality that boosts the impact of your site.
Website backgrounds with patterns
Patterns are a long-standing choice for website backgrounds, combining motifs and color schemes to give designs an aesthetic edge. There’s something about the consistency of repetition that is also pleasing to the eye.
One of the benefits of choosing this type of background is the variety of styles at hand in today’s web design world. Patterns range from minimalistic themes to designs that incorporate photo realistic images. As always, it’s critical that your background isn’t too busy. When going for a more sophisticated pattern, consider using muted colors that will keep your site’s overall design in balance.
Textured website backgrounds
A textured website background is one that resembles a tactile surface. Because of this quality, using this type of background is a great way to add another dimension to your site without taking design risk or distracting visitors.
Web textures provide contrast, facilitating an engaging experience. When choosing one for your own site, make sure it complements the elements in your foreground—when done correctly, textured backgrounds can draw attention and help users focus on your message.
Photographic website backgrounds
A classic choice in some of the best websites, an eye-catching photographic background is one that will make a striking impression on visitors. This type of background is most suitable for an event website or creating a blog, when it’s important to give clear visual representation to accompany your site’s written content.
There are some unique aspects to examine when selecting a photograph as the stage for your design. First, it should be high quality to assure an excellent visual experience and quick loading speed. Next, consider how you want to position your background photo—it can be pinned to follow users as they scroll, or set as a hero image where it will be visible above the fold.
For choosing the photo file itself, you can always upload one of your own. When you make a website with Wix, you can use background images featured in the Editor, or integrate one from stock photo sites (like Unsplash or Shutterstock).
Full screen website backgrounds
A full screen website background will place an emphasis on your website's visuals. Free of margins, it can have a strong impact on your design, with a captivating result. Implementation of this can work with any of the other types we’ve mentioned above.
We can think of a few tips for a full screen background that will ensure you get the right effect. Like all website elements, quality is first and foremost. And since this background will make up the bulk of the site’s visual experience, make sure you accentuate elements like text and buttons, so they don’t (literally) get lost in the background.
What makes a good website background?
How should you choose which website background is right for you with so many choices out there? By using the following tips and principles, you’ll have a better understanding of what to aim for in your final results. Of course, web design is a process of trial and error, so don’t hesitate to test out different designs when you add a background to your website.
Follow the principles of design
When you consider your website background, it’s always important to pay attention to the principles of design. Your background choice will play a role in visual qualities such as balance, contrast and hierarchy. Thinking about its impact on these aspects will help you make a more strategic, creative decision, resulting in a unified website design with a great user experience.
Readability is a must in web design, influencing your website accessibility and the overall user experience. Website backgrounds that use imagery, bold colors and animation have the potential to negatively impact visitors by distracting them from content.
Pairing your background with the right typography and font size is crucial for accomplishing this. Additionally, using a color scheme or adjusting your background’s contrast and opacity can help you achieve the readability your visitors desire.
Be on brand
If you’re creating a business website or site for a personal brand, your background is a great opportunity to support your brand identity. In general, your website color scheme should already incorporate your brand colors, and connect to the overall look of all branding collateral. Your background—whether it’s an image, pattern, color or video—should complement this palette.
Make it mobile friendly
It’s no surprise that over 50% of global internet traffic comes from mobile users. That being said, it’s crucial to give browsers on-the-go the same impactful experience as those visiting your site on desktop. When it comes to your site’s background, this means choosing an image that will scale nicely to the small screen without losing quality or distracting visitors on mobile devices.
Pay attention to quality
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—whether it's videos, photographs or graphic imagery—make sure your website background is high quality, so it doesn’t appear stretched or pixelated. For background images, the best file format is JPEG, while SVGs can be useful for resizing and ensuring scalability.
Of course, high quality images and video are heavier than usual, so you may need to compress your file in order to maintain speed and functionality.