Figuring out what the best background color for a website is takes a little time and thought. Not only do you need to consider the contrast between your choice of hues and your logo, but you want to tap into user emotions with the power of color psychology. The background sets the tone for the rest of the design.
There is a certain psychological impact behind different colors. Keep in mind that different cultures view shades in various ways, though. Understanding who your audience is helps you see how a specific hue might impact mood. Each person has different memories tied to specific shades, but you can choose something appealing to the majority of your audience.
Many factors influence what is the best background color for website design. You must think about the rest of a brand’s color palette, the tone you want to set and how the elements all work together to create a cohesive look. Most designers swap the background less frequently than other elements on the page, so choose something that works as you add additional images and features.
Here are some thoughts on the colors and examples of how other designers use the shade to create a look.
White is not only the best background color for websites, but is also one of the most common. It is neutral, so you can use it with anything. The primary concern with a white background is using darker colors for contrast. Don’t use white and a soft yellow, for example, as the text will fade into the background.
White creates a clean, uncluttered look for web designers. If the brand’s colors are a bit unique, such as a pop of neon pink, white is a good choice because it doesn’t compete with the other bold colors of the design. At first glance, you might see white as a little blah, but it doesn’t have to be when combined with interesting images and pops of color in the elements on the page.
Although a true white creates a bright look for your site, you can also choose an off-white or ivory to soften the harshness a bit. Some designers choose to add a light overlay pattern on top of white, such as soft gray squiggles. Be careful you don’t create a design that’s too busy, but there’s no reason you have to stick to a flat color either.
Limnia uses a white background, which fades away and puts the focus on the beautiful images highlighting their products. As the user scrolls, they see pops of yellow and plenty of earth tones. Note the use of black text as a sharp contrast to the white, drawing the eye to the headlines. They also put a narrow border around images to make the lighter ones pop.
Red is a power color. It conveys boldness and excitement. It’s particularly helpful for fashion brands and some industries where a fresh outlook matters. Many authors and musicians use red as a best background color for website designs.
You’ve likely noticed restaurants use red to grab attention. If you want to get your site visitors excited about your product, red is an excellent background choice. Choose complementing colors that don’t detract from the excitement of the red, such as white, grey or black.
Sports figure Filippo Inzaghi’s website has a red filter over images showing the power and boldness of this soccer player. Red is the best background color for the website of a sports figure, because it elicits excitement and energy, which is what attending a sporting event is all about. The transparency of the red overlay lets the image push through along with a few darker hues.
The color blue is one of the most popular colors used in design. Both men and women like blue, and the color speaks of trust and calm. A dark blue is a common feature in many bank website designs for this very reason. However, you’ll find so many different shades of blue, it’s hard to limit it to one industry.
Blue also works best as a background color for websites about water, such as local municipalities or beverage companies. There are so many places you can use this shade in backgrounds, it’s hard to limit the options to just one or two choices.
Since almost everyone likes blue, you can use it for any industry imaginable. Just pay attention to the common hues for yours and then adapt slightly to stand out from others in your field. You could even do a mix of blue and green or blue and purple.
Fiji Water is known as a brand offering pure, spring water. The use of blues on their site serves two purposes. First, it elicits trust that their water is the best like they say it is. Second, it reminds the user of water and makes one want to drink a bottle of the delicious beverage. Note how Fiji Water uses various hues of blue in their design. The pop of blue on their label is brighter than the natural ones in the background photo.
Green takes one back to nature. Companies who are known as being eco-friendly would be well advised to utilize green in their backgrounds. However, you can also use this color to indicate nature, such as an outdoor gear company. Although not everyone loves green, it does contrast nicely with white elements.
As with blue, however, there are many different shades of green. Using a deep forest-green creates a different mood than a soft, pastel. For boldness, lime green pairs nicely with complementary colors, such as orange. Aqua and turquoise fall into a mix between blue and green.
Green is the best background color for website design if you want to send a message of nature or the great outdoors.
Ripe Planet is a cooperative of agriculture based businesses looking to create sustainable systems and provide fresh produce to their customers. Note how they use green as the main background color on their landing page with animated geometric patterns to draw interest. The call to action (CTA) buttons on the page match the same shade of green as the user moves through the different sections of information.
Dark mode is a current trend in web and app design expected to be easier on the eyes for reading digital documents throughout the day. Medium conducted a survey via Twitter and discovered 82.7% of the respondents used dark mode. However, they do admit the survey was a bit flawed as the majority of users were tech-minded.
The general public is split on whether they like or dislike dark mode. The thing you should keep in mind as a designer is how your particular audience feels and how many of them utilize it. If you design with a dark background, the site will look better in dark mode browsers and on smartphones with the setting enabled.
Black is a powerful choice for a background but the jury is out whether it is the best background color for website design. You will have to use white or some very light color for your text to be readable. Another option is to place a text box overlay on top of your dark background so that you can still use a dark text but it will be readable. Utilizing transparency is one way to achieve the look you want without resorting to jolting white blocks of text.
Keep in mind that those with visual impairments may have trouble with certain colors. Be aware of how a light blue appears to someone who is colorblind, for example.
The Montreal Holocaust Museum adds a bit of drama to their landing page with a dark background and images that morph into place. Even the photos have an overlay on them that sends the user into dark mode and sets a tone of somberness. A serious issue isn’t well-suited for bright, sunshiny colors, so the softness of the text overlayed on the dark background works perfectly.
Red and yellow combine to create orange, which offers energy and youthful vitality to any project. The color grabs attention, which is why you’ll see it on traffic cones and signs.
Businesses in certain industries gravitate to orange, such as sports and those catering to kids. However, any type of business can use orange to create impact. You may want to use a slightly transparent image to create a softer orange tone for your site.
Orange is an excellent compliment to blue. You can add an orange background even if your company color palette is more muted.
Fills uses a golden-orange background to highlight their products. The use of the warm hue invites potential customers to learn more about the product. Although the oranges generate excitement, they are also reminiscent of a day at the beach and tie perfect to the coconut conditioner featured in the hero image.
This bright, sunny shade initiates feelings of happiness in observers. Researchers feel the color influences the left side of the brain and encourages people to analyze whatever data gets shared.
You’ll see yellow used in nearly every industry as a primary color or an accent. It is less aggressive than red and less jarring than orange. If you’re looking for a happier, softer approach, choose a buttercream or pastel yellow. If you want to generate excitement, go for a brighter, deeper yellow.
Yellow Pony uses a vivid yellow background to grab the reader. The pony is yellow as well, tying into the name of the French agency. You can certainly go with a softer yellow, but if you want to grab attention, this particular hue does the trick.
Note how the colors layered on top of the yellow are neutrals, such as black and white. The background is the focal point when the user lands on the page.
Pink can be a bright, modern hue or something soft and winsome. Once you fully understand the tone you’d like to set for your business, it’s much easier to decide which shade of pink works best to represent you.
The color pink is typically seen in beauty-related business promotions. However, it works well for any type of industry. Unless your primary audience is women, you may want to limit how much of it you use. It can come off feminine, which could make your site seem skewed.
However, if you sell to women or younger people, it is an excellent choice. Otherwise, choose it for an accent rather than the background.
Tumult uses a soft pink background to highlight a phone and white letters. As the page loads, a hero photo superimposes over the pink background. However, the headline text appears as a cutout and allows the pink to peek through.
You might normally see this shade of pink on a beauty or children’s website. However, it works well since some of their clients are beauty bloggers. Still, they also represent sports websites and many other industries, so pink is a bold choice making them stand out from their competitors.
Purple is often seen as a regal color. You’ll notice it paired with gold for a royal look. However, it comes in multiple shades. Choosing one that makes your background pop isn’t easy. You want to allow some contrast between your other elements and the purple background.
A very soft lilac can almost blend into obscurity but add a bit of a vintage look to your site. On the other hand, a bright purple grab attention and tells people you have a modern appeal.
You could also choose a background with touches of purple in it to make your site stand out without overdoing the hue.
Game Bytes is an energy gummy. The purple color of the product screams for a website with a purple background. However, they don’t just use the same color. To make the product image pop, they lighten up the background and set it on a gentle gradient so it fades out as you scroll down.
Brown is a nice neutral background color that can range from the lightest tan to the darkest bronze. Keep in mind not everyone likes the color brown, particularly women. It can be seen as a bit masculine, but when done right simply fades out of focus.
Different earthy hues are a perfect fit for outdoorsy type businesses. If you sell something environmentally friendly or masculine, brown is a perfect choice for your website background color.
Edens Garden uses a very subtle tan in the header of the page as part of their background. They then choose hero images with natural elements like plants. The brown they choose verges on green, tapping into the environment even more.
Gray as a background color for websites is an optimal choice if you’re going for a sleek, modern and professional feel. It’s also highly versatile, pairing well with other colors and enhancing readability.
Brands that typically choose this color are tech, corporate and high-end luxury companies. If you pick this color, it’s perfect for when you mean business. It represents maturity and sophistication, showing your audience you’re an authority in your industry.
Apple is a prime example of a brand that uses gray effectively. Known for its clean and minimalist design, Apple’s use of gray creates an atmosphere of professionalism and high-end tech. While gray is a neutral color, it’s impactful. This color highlights product images and other elements, so they stand out against the polished gray backdrop.
Gray stands the test of time and is an elegant choice that supports rather than overshadows your content.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Background Color
When choosing the best background color for your website, it’s important to have a few considerations in mind to guide your decision:
- Audience demographics: Consider your brand’s target audience. Age, culture and personal preference can influence how your audience perceives and interacts with your website.
- Branding and messaging: Keep your brand’s personality in mind and the message you want to convey. Different colors evoke various emotions, so your color choice should align with your brand identity.
- Readability and usability: The best colors will be the ones that make it easy for your audience to read and use your website. High contrast between the background and text will ensure the content is easily read. For instance, some brands choose light backgrounds with dark text to make them more readable.
- Consistency: Remember the importance of this. If you have established brand colors, use them to maintain a cohesive visual identity across your website pages.
- Design trends: Consider what’s trending. While it’s important to maintain your unique brand, staying up-to-date with trends can make your website appear fresh and relevant. Yet, ensure any trendy color choices still align with your brand and improve user experience.
Selecting a background color requires strategic decision-making influenced by your users and brand identity.
Tips for Selecting a Suitable Background Color
These are the best tips for choosing a background color for your website:
Understand Color Psychology
Since colors can trigger different emotional responses, it’s best that you research color psychology. Doing so will inform your color choice to align with your audience’s preferences. For instance, a mental health website would choose light, airy blue colors to signify trust, relaxation and reliability. Meanwhile, a marketing website might select yellow to associate their services with positivity and joy. This color also shows that you’re happy to be of service.
Use Color Tools
Color tools are excellent for helping you generate color schemes that work well together. For instance, Adobe Color helps you easily find and explore color palettes and combinations. Users can choose the scheme they’re going after and generate analogous, monochromatic or complementary sets.
Another great option is Coolers, offering users various features like generating palettes from a photo. Or, you can choose to explore popular choices and develop your own. This site even has extensions that allow users to save and export their creations.
Test Different Options
Once you have chosen your color, test it to see how your audience interacts with and responds to it. Use A/B testing for different background colors. By trying different colors, you can gain valuable insight into which color works best for your brand.
Consider monitoring key performance indicators, such as how long users stay on your site and conversions. These numeric results help you understand engagement impact and the best color option.
The Best Background Color for Your Website
Choosing a color palette is never an easy task. Think about the mood you want to set and how your target audience might react. What colors mesh best with your brand’s palette? Study how others integrate color into their backgrounds via images and patterns. If you aren’t happy with the results, try a different shade in the same color family or start again from scratch.