Using Texture Tastefully in Web Designs

Rachel Alexander

Texture is not just a passing trend in web design. It’s an essential tool for adding depth and dimension to an otherwise flat page. The best designers know that a website’s texture can draw the viewer’s attention and emphasize important words or images. The right texture and color have the power to transform a web design into an aesthetically appealing, effective website. There are limitless options for adding versatile textures to a site, and proper use of texture can accomplish several design goals:

  • Grab Attention: A designer can use texture to focus the eye on headings, titles, icons, footers, call-to-action buttons, artwork, fonts, or logos. Many designers will opt for a textured logo over a clear background, or a clean logo against a textured background for dramatic effect. Typically, the textured part of a website is what tends to appeal to visitors first. It’s easier to process information when visitors know where to look.
  • Add Contrast: Texture can provide much-needed contrast for sidebars, information boxes, or other distinct sections of content. In other words, the website architecture is vastly improved with the addition of various thoughtfully-inserted textures. With a little texture, a designer can add more information to the page without it seeming disorganized or overwhelming.
  • Provide a Unique Atmosphere:  Atmosphere is something most designers take very seriously. The best websites invite visitors into their portals and captivate them for long periods of time. The branding takes center-stage, and there is no doubt as to where the company stands in its policies, products, services, and principles. Everything is clearly spelled out in the design aesthetic – the mood, the images, the colors, and the textures.
  • Create Realism: Some designers like their pages to appear like nature – be it ice, water droplets, wood, plants, fur, or some other texture. This realism evokes emotions in the viewer and can be impressive to behold if done properly.

But, at the same time, you certainly can have “too much of a good thing” if you overuse textures in your web designs. Poor use of texture can create a disjointed, chaotic environment that overshadows the main points of the site, or – worse yet – a cliché design that lacks any real creativity or imagination. In recent years, amateur designers have been quick to jump on the texture bandwagon, creating template after template of textured layouts that scour every other WordPress blog and band website. As a result, some designers characterize textured web designs as “grungy” or “unprofessional.”

Texture Tips to Consider

  • Legibility is most important. If any part of the website becomes more difficult to read once texture is incorporated, it must be removed. If visitors can’t find the information they want within several seconds, they’re gone – no matter how pretty the site may look.
  • Texture should be used minimally and purposefully. Just as a person should not leave the house wearing polka-dots, stripes and plaid at the same time, a designer should not try to stitch multiple textures together that make the content more difficult to enjoy.
  • Web developers should pay close attention to loading time in their designs. It is possible to include texture without sacrificing speed and efficiency. Creating a small, seamless tiled image is far better than loading a giant texture file.

Below are twenty-three examples of impressive texture-based designs.


Daily Payne

Corvus Art

Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar

Cake Sweet Cake

The Foggy Goggle

Delia Explorers

Dog House Cards

Rocket Club

Ryan Scherf

Forever Heavy

Wandering Goat Coffee Company

Lifetree Creative

Foreign Policy Design

Neutral Milk Hotel

Five Cent Stand

The Third Floor

The Cowboy Star

Sienna Online

Marcus James Wine

Allen Solly

Aussie BBQ

When executed tastefully, textured designs showcase the skills of designers with discerning eyes for detail and sophisticated sensibilities.

Do you have any texture-based designs (or texture tips) to share? Do you think textures are a fleeting fad in web design?