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Color In Design: Black

    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?