How to Best Use Textures in Web Design

Visual texture in art and design adds interest and emphasis to a piece in a way that few other techniques can. However, making the best use of texture in design isn’t always easy. Yes, it’s helpful if design and art look pretty, but the use of texture should add so much more to a piece than to make it aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re in the process of having a website built, you’ll need to consider more than which company you’ll use for web hosting. You’ll also want to talk with a design about how you can use texture to keep people interested in the content of your website.

Here are some of the things you should be considering as you add texture to your website.

Textures and Patterns

It’s useful to talk about textures and patterns in design before we actually talk about textures specifically. Both are used in design and some designers will use the terms interchangeably. However, texture isn’t always patterns and vice versa.

Patterns are a design element that repeat a form or forms within the visual field such as a paisley or plaid pattern. Additionally, some patterns, like plaid, also have a texture. Texture can be a pattern, but it can also be random. Sandstone, for example, has texture, but the pattern of the sand within the sandstone probably looks random to the naked eye. The same could be said for the texture of leather, wood, and other substances.

Make Text Stand Out

Fonts play a really important role in graphic and web design. They count as one of the best low-budget design elements you can add to a website or brochure. They also happen to be one of the best places to add texture, according to Smashing Magazine.

Any textural element that you add should have a design motivation behind it. In this case, adding texture to a font makes it stand out against a smooth background. You can play with the opposite element, too, meaning that you can place a smooth font on top of a textured background. In both cases, you’ll draw the eye to this important element on the page.

There is a caveat to all of this, however. Using texture along with fonts requires a visual sweet spot of sorts. If you use too much texture, the font/ text may become unreadable. If you use too little, the font could fade into the background and look lackluster. Play around with this element as you work with your web design and web hosting team. It’ll help you to better develop the overall look of your site’s design.

Add Character and Thematic Elements

Awwwards.com highlighted some cool web design textures in an article. These provide excellent examples of how you can use texture in design to create a theme. One particular design featured a photograph of an old spice box. Each section of the box then featured words painted on the wood. When you clicked on that section, you were taken to that particular spice or food element.

What’s cool about this design is that it builds on something that most people already know about. That is, it uses our knowledge of old advertising and old pharmacies/ grocery stores (and how they were visually designed) to guide how we use the site. The site’s intuitive and the textures that the web designers used play into that. You know right away how to navigate that site in part due to how the interface is laid out and how texture is used.

Add Visual Depth and Contrast to a Design

Texture in design equals depth, according to TutsPlus.com. Texture makes images stand out for us in the “real world:” It also does in graphic and web design. For example, you may want to make certain sections of a design stand out. Texture can help you do that. You might place an element that looks relatively smooth on top of a textured background (just as you did in the case of the fonts.)

You might also feature a design that has a texture “outer perimeter,” but an un-textured or differently textured inner perimeter. If you place an element like this on the page correctly, it will serve to draw your eye to the center of the design. (However, it doesn’t have to be in the center. The same principle can be used anywhere you want to draw the eye.)

You can get additional bang for your buck by adding a light/ dark contrast to your design. Here’s an example. Let’s say that you’ve chosen a dark, leather-textured background. Make sure that you place visually lighter objects on top of that if you want them to stand out. Make sure as well that those objects have a different texture than the background for a double effect.

Final Thoughts on Texture in Design

Often when we’re working on a website, we think about things like web hosting, SEO, shopping carts, and the like. True enough, all those things are important. However, web design should play a role in this, too.

Good website design will include design elements like line and space, color and contrast. However, it should also include texture. Texture adds visual interest to any design. And if it’s used correctly, it also can make your design choices clearer and make your website easier to read and to navigate.

Additionally, the correct use of texture can make your website better looking. While it is recognized that pretty alone shouldn’t be the basis of your design decisions, it is also true that people respond to nice-looking design. Properly using texture can give your design just the right visual appeal to be both beautiful and supremely functional.

Finally, texture in design helps you set your brand apart from other brands. It provides an element on non-verbal communication that’s difficult to obtain without it. It provides mood and character, making your website interesting to look at and memorable long after visitors to your site have stepped away from their computers.