Trends: Do you want to add a background wallpaper to your site?

It looks like web design in the future will focus less on graphics and other frills: soon enough, photos will most likely take over as the most popular tool for design. Large and definitely marvelous, photographs have decided to replace web designers and to embellish a modern and great-looking website.

Previously, photos were used mostly by photographers in order to demonstrate their skills; now the choice of images and sceneries to form backgrounds, replacing patterns and palettes, is becoming less and less of a niche. Rather.

Restaurants, hotels, lingerie stores, as well as rock bands: many have chosen this graphic set-up, believing that it is both simple and visually effective.

How can you deny this? A beautiful image can, effectively, make the difference for a website. It lures a web surfer to remain on a certain website and a photograph can instantly express a range of ideas that, written or using words, most probably would lose their charm.

Even in this case, the role that a great graphic designer plays should not be underestimated. Without an eye for aesthetics, projects would most likely lack the pleasing effects thus making it less attractive to look at.

Like every choice in graphic design, using a photograph as the background of a site has both strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s see what these are in detail.

Communication coherency

Are you trying to design a travel agency-related website, where you want to emphasize on relax, tourism and exotic locations? A great photograph showing a seaside scenery (for instance, a Hawaiian beach) or a lush and green panorama, has a very strong visual impact and on a irrational level, it lights up immediately the unconscious desires of the web surfer.


The same is true for designing a photography website: inserting photos in the background is a clever technique that can be used to stimulate the user and to present the abilities of the artist whose photographs are found on the site. In this way, the written content moves away from the spotlight, as it should be rightfully, since works of art should be left to ‘speak’ on their own.



The key concept is: if they are used in the right context, photos used as backgrounds can graphically enhance the main points of a given project or activity

Site background stands out over the written content on a website

If one wants to focus solely on images, it is important to have a lot of space available. The site alignment to the left, like it was mentioned in this article, could be a possible solution: in this way, instead of being blanketed, the background image is not overshadowed by the other content on the site.




Another excellent technique, which is always spot-on, is to insert text in sections that maintain a certain amount of transparency so that the background image can be see-through. Transparencies are elegant and they can always add a touch of class to a website, moreover black-and-white transparencies are easily adaptable to any given background.  Considering that photos are usually constructs of thousands of pixels of every given color and shade, this is something that should not be overlooked.


Photo effects

Black and white, maybe with only a singular color tone. The color sepia. Old-looking. Pixelated effect or out of focus. Inner shadows. Those that have a minimum of knowledge regarding Photoshop filters (and those who don’t can always refer to the hundreds of effects available online), will be able to finally let their imagination run wild. However it is important not to get carried away too much! Using the previous examples, it is important to note how a black-and-white image can be an obvious choice for a photography website, while for a travel agency website it could be something to avoid definitely. An image of the sea in black-and-white is not that appealing for a would-be traveler or would it?


Communication incoherency

Idyllic sceneries evoke and transmit a certain peace of mind. Having said this, it is not always the best thing to have too many mountains and hillsides shown as images. Recently, panoramic sceneries are being used more and more as background, without much regard for the central theme of the photograph or the type of activity that is being promoted. It is important to always remember that the background must be not only attractive but it must be above all other things coherent with the site and it must represent it visually in a way which is more or less indirect.
It is important not to convey a sense of inconsistency to the user!

Hard to read

Building websites, there is always the risk of making a site hard to read. This is all the more evident as one looks t a couple of other sites. Unless the image is composed mostly of a single color, it is important not to insert text directly on the background without having a background image that can be in contrast with the text or a transparency that covers, at least partially, the photo.



Low-quality images

Pixelated images are very annoying to look at even in a small format, so it is no wonder that increasing the resolution to 1000 pixels in length only makes things worse. The basic rule of thumb for having a photo as a background image is to acquire an image that has a very high resolution: low-quality images are a double-edged sword because not only do they lower the whole aesthetic look and quality of a website, they can give out a message of negligence which is a complete deterrent for any user to leave the site immediately.


Photos over graphics

It is important to keep in mind that a photograph, no matter how wonderful it might be, cannot and should not completely replace the graphics of a site. And, most importantly, it is not enough to paste a photo as a background image and pretend to have a great website: beauty and aesthetic harmony are two components that can be found residing in every detail.

Therefore it is important to consider any given picture, keeping in mind the typography, the color arrangements and all the other graphic-related elements of a page.

Also, be sure not to confuse a minimalist graphic design with an inexistent graphic design: these are two completely different things.

And now, a moment of inspiration

Do you like this style and are you looking for some inspiration for one of your projects? If the answer is yes, this collection is just what you need. The following websites are good examples of how to display photos as backgrounds in a creative manner, without giving the appearance of being overly simplistic or quite disorganized.

1. All Jarreau


2. Art of seduction


3. Cie de Oorsprong


4. Ewt


5. Frizo


6. Guillaume Verdon


7. Hoddow


8. La Novia


9. Mellow


10. Mobitec


11. This is leaf


12. Soaky


13. G2


14. Easy bistro


15. The salon


16- Pizzeria Mediterranea

17 – August


18 – Bow Valley Club

19 – Alley

20 – Josh Hemsley


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The Author

Web designer, has been working in the field of graphics and web development for six years and at the moment besides collaborating with a web agency successfully manages her freelance activity under the name of mascara design. Like many freelancers she is used to handling more roles, ranging from paper graphics to the development of html and css codes; nonetheless this passion of hers remains, always and however, web graphics.

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