A brick wall

by Astha Mishra

Textures In Websites: What Makes Them So Captivating?

Most websites today are striving to create a visual feast for viewers using the lure of textures. But what makes them so utterly captivating popular?

A white sofa and table

Wait and think about it - what comes to your mind when you think of textures? To make it more involving, think about the textures of these things: wall, paintbrush, soil, flower petals, velvet... When you think about the textures of these things and not just how they look, the thought is accompanied by an imaginary feel of touch. Texture evokes your senses.

Textures have always been used in the world of Interior Designing, and many others, as a way of enhancing a feature and providing a nice, subtle but defining personality to a certain design, part of a place or the place itself. Every time we think of textures, our minds are filled with plenty of images and the sensations that accompany those images. Textures are extremely important to evoke a feeling, a realistic sensation in us.

So how can textures be used efficiently in web design - something that has to appear on a plain, smooth screen?

Well, this is why they are even more important to web design - to provide something that seems impossible to achieve effectively.

The use of a variety of textures in web design is no passing trend - it's has been around here for a long time and is not really going anywhere anytime soon. The reason why it's become the heartbeat of many accomplished web designers is not that difficult to understand; it's all got to do with the intention.

As we said earlier, textures evoke a sensation, a feeling, a subconscious awareness of the presence of something that will be seen and felt by viewers when they visit a website.

Textures In Web Design - and not patterns!

A texture wall

Before we go on to talk more about how and why textures have an integral role to play in a web design, let's make one thing clear: textures are not patterns. We know, we know most of you already know it, yet we couldn't pass over this little detail without discussing it.

Many times we have seen people confuse textures with patterns and it can lead to a lot of misinformation and also misinterpreted result expectation from both these design elements. So let's make it clear: patterns are the images repeated consistently, most often as a background element; textures do not promise repeated consistency though - they rather promise a random and complex enhancement of other elements while being subtle themselves.

Using textures on a website give adds extra detail to the design and makes other elements accentuate better. For example, the most common texture that you might have come across would be paper or concrete. Using paper textures on e-readers or bookish websites creates an experience of reading something on real paper.

Textures, when used correctly, can turn a boring website into a much more immersive experience - they give the third dimension a 2-dimensional website. And don't make the mistake of thinking they can only be used in the background - you just have to know how to do it the right way and they will rock the show even in the front seats!

Types of textures

Well, broadly speaking, there are two types of textures used in the website designs - 'life-like' and 'noise'.

A wooden plank

Life-like textures- Most of the life-like textures are used in the forefront and are often the prime focus of a website. This type of texture is used mainly when the focus has to be attracted to some object or product as they create a perfect illusion.

They can be used in the form of many different things - walls, paper, clay, skin - literally whatever you can touch in the real world can be used here. Life-like textures are a great way of boosting a brand's core agenda and giving it a better-defined personality.

Blue texture

Noise texture - This is the most commonly known and used texture in web design and probably the one you come across the most. When we first started talking about 'textures in websites', the image that most likely might have come to your mind would have been that of grainy, velveteen, papery or perhaps a chalky background - examples of the noise texture.

Noise textures often work very subtly in the background but it would be a huge mistake to underestimate their impact on the overall design and definition of the website. Especially in the current coming of minimalist websites craze, noise textures are what many web designers use to save their website from looking dull, plain and boring. They add an extra layer to a website without making it crowded or stealing focus from the other elements.

A noise website manages to create the required buzz in a website by creating a much needed immersive experience of a website without even stealing focus from the main stuff.

Why use textures?

Old building image

The answer to this question can be as simple as "to enhance and define the overall experience and intent of the website", but we are not here for one-liners, are we?

While textures do make a website look much more appealing visually, it wouldn't be right to say that's the only good enough reason to add textures. 'Pretty' doesn't sum it all up. So let's see what textures can provide us that their absence won't.

A rusty website

Enhance the theme - Adding a texture can be just the right thing to do when you want to give a personality to your website or want to enhance its existing theme.

Add a visual element - By adding texture, you can easily add an extra visual element to your website without the fear of making it overly crowded. This is very good for evoking a certain mood in the viewer.

Incorporating your message - Yes, that can be done with textures too. Do you work on a particular principle or design theme? Using textures correctly, you can let the viewers know about your specialty in your field of work.

Guiding the focus - Do you want the viewer to pay more attention to a message, style element or certain content on your website? Textures can a great guiding tool which will do the work without being too nosy and loud.

Things to keep in mind...

Paper texture

There are many ways you can use texture. And some of them are not very inviting...

The textures used in websites can do wonders for someone but sometimes when not done right, it may look almost criminal. Many times we have seen amateur and irresponsible web designers using textures in a way that instead of enhancing the experience, ended up completely ruining it.

So here are some tips and words of caution for you to avoid creating a website disaster and leave an actual, wonderfully pleasant impact on the viewers:

A wall

Don't overplay - And I'll say this cliche but absolutely wise thing again - excess of anything is bad. Remember that you are using textures because you're making the website and not making the website because you want to add textures! Keep in mind what's the intent with you are using the texture and stick to it. It's there to highlight, support and enhance the content, not to replace it.

Use the right texture - Every sort of texture will bring with it its own powerful influence and therefore it should be in harmony with what your website intends to communicate. A texture can be dark, cheerful, gloomy, warm, strong, loud, subtle and many more things. Does the one you use match the website's intention?

Keep the text legible - Texts are literally the most direct, impactful and of course the primary mode of communication that your website has and you can't afford to have it crowded or rendered illegible because of using the wrong texture with it. One of the biggest and most costly mistakes we have seen people make is how easily they take the written text for granted. Your text must not be overshadowed by or because of the textured - or any other - background.

Don't compromise with loading time - Since most of the textures used in the web designs are high-quality images, it becomes extremely important to make sure that the file isn't so big that it slows down the loading speed of the website. A website with a slow loading speed is the biggest turn-off for anyone visiting your website.

In the end...

A textured portrait

It all depends on how you use it. These days textured websites are becoming an essential part of web designing owing to the benefits they provide with user engagement. Just make sure there is a purpose behind the use of textures in your website and you have a clear 'why' for its use. If adding texture isn't changing anything for your website, then it's gonna be a crowded addition - avoid it.

Once you establish an understanding of the textures and the needs of your website, you will easily be able to navigate through many design elements. Just do your research and you'll see the kind of wonders textures could do to your website!

Next Article

Are You Thinking About Getting A Minimalist Website?

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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