When you open up a new website, there is no doubt that the color of the background plays a big part in the overall sense of appeal it provides. Most people might never consciously think about it, but they immediately start to form an opinion on a company based on how their site looks.
A dark background has long been seen as an attractive option to give off strong first impressions. Yet, not every website owner does this well, with many of them not even fully aware of why they chose this type of design or how to make the most of it.
What are the main points to bear in mind in order to fully understand the basics of website design with a striking, dark background? By looking at space exploration, luxury watches, and poker games, we can get a better feel for this subject.
A lightbulb on a dark background
Why the Attraction of a Black vs White Background?
Have you ever stopped to wonder why certain colors are more heavily used to get across different messages online? When it comes to black and white backgrounds, they each give off vastly different impressions.
Black is largely seen as being a strong, authoritative color. It can also be seen as intelligent and as professional. In terms of websites, it gives a sophisticated, subtle look. On the other hand, white is commonly regarded as being safe, pure, and peaceful. This color is open and clear, giving a sense of a blank sense to be filled.
According to a display refrigerator manufacturer, different colors are interpreted in varying ways across the planet. For example, to some people, red is lucky, while to others it can be risky, threatening, passionate, strong, angry, or many other things. If a global brand uses red, then people will look at them differently according to their own cultural upbringing.
Yet, black and white are generally viewed in a very similar way in any culture anywhere in the world. This means that choosing one or the other is a way of getting a design that is far less likely to be off-putting or wrongly interpreted anywhere in the world. Two people viewing a dark site are going to get largely the same first impressions regardless of their individual cultures.
Taking all of this into account, can we say that black is a more attractive color than white for a website? It really depends who the site is aimed at and what message it is designed to give out to visitors. As we will see in the next section, it can be hugely effective in certain niches for a number of reasons.
Photography and Poker: Examples of Niches Where Dark Works
Have you ever noticed how dark backgrounds are widely used in certain industries? These are niches where the cultural significance that we looked at earlier are important to the brand. We can split these cases into different areas where there are specific reasons for choosing to go dark.
A good example is where the business wants to present a stylish portfolio where the products stand out on their own. This approach is used by everyone from graphic designers to photography businesses and from car manufacturers to perfume brands and much more. The sites from BlackBerry, Ferrari, and Don Q are a few interesting examples of this type.
A dark background typically works well here because there isn’t much text needed. The idea that visitors automatically get is that the images they see speak for themselves without the need for many words. This helps the products to jump up, which in turn shows that the company has the confidence to put their work boldly up front to be seen right away.
Other brands need a slick, professional look. An online poker site like 888poker shows how this works. As with previous examples, there isn’t a lot of text, as an enticing bonus and names such as Texas Hold’Em, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha are immediately appealing to poker players. They see a smooth site where they can start placing poker chips and looking at cards instantly.
Away from luxury products and poker games, the use of a dark screen can also give a mysterious, enticing look, as shown by examples such as sites that introduce new technology or that are about pushing the limits of our knowledge. The official NASA site discusses the possibilities of space exploration in front of a dark screen. This immediately gives us a sense of the vastness and mystery of outer space.
Caption: A dark computer screen
Tips for Using Dark Colors Only In Some Design Elements
It is also common to see websites that use dark colors only in certain design elements. This can be the header and footer, the comments, pop-ups, and so on. Why is this and what benefits can brands hope to gain from it? Are they just hoping to get the best of both worlds or is there a powerful reason for doing this?
One theory is that this method of combining differently colored backgrounds can help break up a long site with a lot of information on it. If we take a look at the Rolex luxury watch site, we can see a varied use of color that breaks up the site neatly in sections that cover different models, as well as information such as how to configure a watch.
The Lamborghini home page is another that starts and ends in dark colors but has a light background in the middle. In fact, it is now common to see this approach, with Footlocker another brand that includes both dark and light elements in their website design. It is visually appealing, with some of the benefits of a dark background added to a lighter touch.
This approach can also help companies to guide visitors to the things that they most want them to see. The latest, most exciting models, products or poker games can stand out against a dark background, while the important but slightly boring information goes in as text on a lighter background.
As we have seen, different brands opt for a dark website design for a variety of reasons. It is a case of judging each case on its own merits and deciding what colors are going to match the company’s vision, needs, and overall image.