By Jennifer Farley

Color In Design: Black

By Jennifer Farley

We’re coming close to the end of this series. Last week I posted about gray, with some examples of its use in web design. This week, we’re going darker and the focus is on black. Like gray, black provides a near-neutral background which allows other elements of the design to stand out. A lot of photography sites use a black background to allow the photographs take center stage.

Black is a powerful color. It can be serious and sophisticated, and it makes other (lighter) colors pop. There is a feeling of weight when using black that doesn’t exist with any of the other colors. Occasionally, you see reversed out text in print, i.e. black background with white text, often on business cards but on the web we see it frequently and it can look very striking.

Good Black/Bad Black

Some associations that are made with black are of course mourning, death and evil, but on the upside black can exude elegance, intensity, confidence, mystery, power and strength.

We can also think about some of the positive and negative perceptions of black in every day language: Something fancy can be described as black tie, or an expert (not just in martial arts) can be referred to as a black belt. On the downside, a person could be a blackguard, black-hearted, a black sheep or be blacklisted.

domdiogo johnnywalker velvetglove

All images from The Dieline

Black in Design

Black is a great partner to almost any color. It makes other colors appear brighter. Even very dark colors can work well with black when texture differentiates them. Used with white it provides great contrast. Black and red are also very eye-catching and dramatic, while combined with orange it still attractive but has connotations of Halloween. Yellow really pops out of a black background, while light blue gives an air of conservatism.

Black In Web Design

As always I’ll conclude with a small selection of web sites proudly sporting today’s color. Here are ten sites wearing black with just a hint of extra color thrown in. A few of these sites use textures or gradients to lift the background from being a very plain black.



Artifice Studios


Gate 679


Black Estates




Kardo Ayoub




Seb Design


Level 9 Design




What do you think of black? Do you like it on web sites, or do you find the contrast of black background and light text too hard on the eye?

  • Personally, I love dark backgrounds with lighter text. Unfortunately, I do not think it is as professional looking as a white background based website, though.

  • designi1

    Black Rocks! Its the best choices for web readings (i mean dark webs ). When you think in the system colors you know that the darker color you need less amount of joined colors to make that color. Can be very tiring reading long contents from the web in a 90% or more white website!!! so ppl color websites…make them eye happier :D

  • Pooja36

    Good collection again. These color theme collections from sitepoint never fail to impress me.

    Regarding using black for websites, I think it lacks professionalism. But its different and attractive. Personally speaking I love dark color websites.

  • Alex

    Black is amazing… I can’t close this page (( Will take it to bookmarks.

  • I wouldn’t have said that being a ‘black sheep’ is necessarily a downside :-P

    Black is certainly a powerful colour in web design, especially when used as a background. However, I don’t often get requests from clients for black backgrounds on their website designs, and if I do, interestingly it is usually from those involved in some kind of design field (especially photography as you say). I see that many of your examples are design-related so perhaps this is a trend.

    Black is definitely one of my favourite ‘colours’ in design ☺

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