Tips for Textures

Stephen Yagieolowicz
The creative use of textures is a hallmark of graphical web design, stretching back to the common use of background images in the early days of Web 1.0, to the sophisticated and often subtle renderings employed by today’s top designers. While the use of textures has not changed, the way in which they are used has evolved; to where some of the best designs feature textures that while hardly noticeable enhance a website’s cohesive theme.

For example, rather than using a single generic texture, such as “cloth paper,” “wood” or “stucco” as an overall, repeated page background image, these graphics may be limited to individual page elements, such as providing texture to headers, footers and sidebars — areas which can benefit dramatically from subtle texturing.

Bold textual elements, including site titles and headings, as well as navigational text, can all benefit from the use of textures, especially those that subtly highlight these items.

The versatility of graphical textures can be further enhanced by leveraging the color, “lighting” and typography of your website, and by incorporating photographic elements, rather than simply using color and texture swatches.

Textures can lend depth, dimension and sophistication to an otherwise bland design. Just remember that a little can go a long way and that the smaller in file size these images are (and the less of them there are), the faster your site will load — and be sure to always call them from within CSS, so that you can easily change them or their properties, while streamlining your code.

CSS is also an easy way to add textures as part of event effects; for example adding a texture to an element such as an image “on hover,” then removing it for standard display.

There are a seemingly endless variety of Photoshop tutorials and free texture libraries on the Internet that will help you create or find just the right textures for your website, but regardless of how you use textures or where you find them, their use should be a staple of your designs — see how creatively you can use them.


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