You can look at background designs as double-edged swords. A good one can take your design to the next level, while a bad choice can ruin the entire thing.
Whether you go for a picture as the background or just a solid color, the background will determine how all other elements of your design come together when spread out as a whole. Essentially, backgrounds are the backbone of a solid creative design.
And there are many reasons why that is.
If your background carries various design textures with different colors crisscrossing, then that helps to build depth and contrast. The visuals will be able to pop out more and become more eye-catching. The right composition of pictures can also help to build space to layer text.
One of the easiest ways to make your design much more meaningful is through the right choice of backgrounds as well; they add visual support to the aim and vision you want to achieve through your creative design as a whole. And there’s a saying that goes the simpler, the better.
But how can you figure out what kind of background will work best with what you have in mind? As much as you can rely on your own creative eye, there has to be more to it, right?
In fact, there are numerous strategies and rules that can help you create a simple background design that will mold your project to be at its highest potential.
So, let’s jump right into it.
The temptation to go all out and pretend like you’re creating an artistic masterpiece of the renaissance times gets to the best of us. But really, for branded marketing materials simplicity will take your creative design up and beyond what you expected.
At the same time, you still have to be careful; not every type of simple background may fit the design objectives, topic, and theme that you have in mind. Even a simple background has the potential to backfire.
There is such a thing as too simple if your aim doesn’t align with the design you decided to go for. But at the same time, simple backgrounds are a great path to take for site images, and even for your social media because it easily provides a clean and sleek slate to showcase what you have to say to your followers.
If you’re looking to create something professional, then a simple background will be your ticket for a clean and sophisticated end product.
While a cluttered background may look more bold and artsy, a simple background is what will allow your design placements to look more organized and persuade the audience for staying longer on the page.
It’s also a lot easier to coordinate with when you are using a simple design for the background of your webpage. It is precise because there is no clutter that you can present your content in a straightforward manner.
Your overall goal is to make sure that your end design represents you as a brand effectively, regardless of whether you are a big corporation or a small business. A simple background design will only serve to aid you in this goal and have a larger impact on those who come across your brand, be it stakeholders, investors, or your consumer base.
What your main goal probably is as a designer, is to push the audience to take some sort of action on your page. And that won’t be possible if design elements such as images, logos, graphics, and text are not easily comprehensible.
Your background comes into play here because what you want is to shift the focus towards these different elements and not away from them. The more complicated your background looks, the more distracted and irritated the audience will become. And you have to avoid this at all costs.
A simple background will allow you to coordinate all the design elements on the page so they are in sync and in harmony. Remember, you want the user to keep scrolling and not hover over the X button to close the tab.
Think of designing like decorating a cake. It’s much easier to decorate a cake that has a simple frosting as the base, isn’t it? A simple background works in the same way. The simpler it is, the easier it will be to let your imagination run wild will graphics.
It will become much easier to experiment with different design ideas and be more versatile if your beautiful background lets you be more flexible rather than becoming a congested hindrance.
For example, you can easily pair simple background designs with more bold graphic elements. You can also do the opposite and keep a standalone simple text instead. It is because it is a simple background, to begin with, that your design process will ultimately be very flexible to work with.
Take a look at this word unscrambler, it’s the perfect example of a simple yet very intuitive site. It directs you straight into what you need on the main homepage while the design remains simple.
You don’t need statistics to know that majority of people who are online use their mobile devices before they would bother getting on to a web browser from their PC or laptops. Why? Because it’s convenient, faster, and much less of a hassle.
So the biggest mistake you can make is neglecting the fact that your background design has to look good not just on the big screen, but on the small screen too. And this is where a simple background design comes in – it is far easier to work with a simple background design for your marketing materials than it is with a cluttered one. Users will have an easier time viewing your designs and your page on a smaller screen and this will encourage them to take action on your posts.
At the same time, a more simple design won’t overload the user with excess information – what you don’t want is the user to get a headache before they even have the chance to scroll down your page.
A simple background design, therefore, keeps things classy and makes sure that the message is delivered without overwhelming their senses.
The first step is always the hardest, and an empty page is bound to be intimidating. Innovation doesn’t come easy and that’s why going in with a plan is important. Let’s take a look at some background design strategies that can give you the push you need.
|Solid color backgrounds|
Source: Bond Cars | evanshalshaw
|Solid backgrounds allow for quick and easy design constructions. Deeper tonal combinations with bright/dim colors or contrasting colors create an appealing effect. |
Using dual tones of similar hues helps highlight other design elements without separating the page.
The most important aspect to remember here is what kind of mood you want to go for. Lighter combinations will produce a more calming effect.
Complementary colors and tonal duotones on the other hand will pack more of a punch.
|If the message you’re sending with your design is something hard-hitting and impactful, try using a tonal separation. |
Your background design will help make the overall look stand out if colors are used to offset one another.
A sleek and dynamic look is created when using darker backgrounds against lighter objects like text. It pops out and catches attention in the best way.
It is especially recommended if you want to go for a modern or contemporary style.
A tip here is to limit your color palette and not use more than two colors when overlaying alternate tones.
Source: Deda Designs | Awwwards
|Yes, textures can be simple. By using minimal colors and a clear layout, you can create a nice background that draws focus on the actual content on the page. |
What you can do is use only pre-built templates with self-made small shapes and designs.
By creating a three-dimensional angle, you can create a space between your background and your text.
This will enhance the style and help relevant information on the page stand out more. Remember that the composition has to stay simple.
|Source: Spotify||Gradient background options are pretty popular with web designers because of how well they come out on digital platforms. |
You can combine any two colors to create either bold or neutral looks and have it come out looking sophisticated.
Whether its a linear gradient or a radial one, you can play around with the audience’s focal point and manipulate where you want their eyes to go when they land on the pace.
The versatility gradient backgrounds bring to the idea of simplicity is the most interesting aspect for a designer.
Source: Mancini Made
|Images can be tricky. If not used correctly, you can end up with a mismatched mess where your other design elements can barely be spotted on the page. |
But if done right, then an image background can bring your design to life. A picture can speak more than a thousand words, after all.
A larger-than-life bold photograph as the background can grab your audience by the neck like no other.
Keep in mind that images with pockets of negative space can be used to place type.
Don’t let your elements float on the page either, and make sure they are aligned to the edge if possible.
|Source: Design Web Kit||In transparent backgrounds, the clarity of the backdrop you choose is reduced and the haze created makes it easier to interpret the elements present in the frame. |
It’s easy to make the mistake of over-application when using transparent designs. The way to ensure a good result is to motif your clarity to the value of your text/text background.
Be careful that what you adjust doesn’t end up making the clarity of the background design low; you still need it to be clearly visible to have a good impact on the audience.
Source: Norform | Awwwards
|Just because it’s a pattern, doesn’t mean it can’t be simple. Positioning is the key to making a patterned background stand out and look fun. |
Or else, it would just end up looking messy and give out an unorganized feel.
Make sure that whichever design you choose does not end up contradicting the meaning and objective of your design.
Other than that, the pattern also shouldn’t drown out the content of your design.
For example, a geometric pattern produces clear lines and makes it much easier to add text over it.
|Backgrounds with illustrations|
Source: Rokas Aleliunas | Dribble
|If your design objective is to create an interactive experience for your audience then what you need is an illustrated background. |
Not only do you have the opportunity to custom-make the illustration according to the content to make it unique, but the end product will stand out in a playful way.
Just make sure that the illustration doesn’t end up taking too much attention away from the actual content.
A good way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to apply the rule of thirds, which is a guideline when placing icons and elements.
Take hierarchy and balance into consideration and remember that your message has to be communicated clearly.
|As a designer, you probably know this already but you can never go wrong with a white background. |
The minute you start feeling that there’s too much going on in your layout, use a white background to make it look elegant and simple.
What a white background does is act as a medium that stimulates your senses and leads the audience’s attention towards the actionable elements on the page.
The simplicity of white space allows for a minimal design which lets you put more effort and refine the other features on the page.
Besides that, white backgrounds are always coming in as the latest trends in the design world.
|Who said abstract can’t be simple? Even though it sounds contradictory, it actually is not. |
Using abstract art is a great way to create something simple that is still vibrant with an artistic touch.
Since there are so many variations when it comes to abstract art, you will be able to find something regardless of the topic or theme you are going with.
Keeping up with the brand’s color palette won’t be an issue at all. You can always head over to Adobe Color to try out different combinations of colors to see what works best for your brand.
|When in doubt, just look up at the sky to find the answers. No, really. As corny as it sounds, the night sky really might be the answer to your simple background design problems. |
There are a billion and one marketing images with starscapes as their inspiration. It provides a simple yet effective design that speaks of discovery, adventure, and innovation.
If your brand has anything to do with themes like this, then this might be the option for you.
|Bokeh photography is a great option if you’re looking for something whimsical, artistic, and yet professional and simple. |
With this kind of background design, you’re bound to get the best of both worlds.
Many examples of Bokeh photography has soft colors paired with various geometric shapes.
It doesn’t take an art wizard to see how great that will be in helping your content and other web design elements stand out.
It won’t take attention away from your main message either, but rather will enhance it.
Snappa’s library is a great place to start if you’re looking for a good variety of Bokeh photography.
You can also look into incorporating translucent shapes with rounded edges, with bold and basic text for overlays. This will make for quite an eye-catching visual.
Source: Adobe Stock
|When you think simple, you’re bound to think minimalist at some point. The first rule of minimalism is that less is more; that goes for all the overlays that you place on top of your background image too. |
A good color palette to match with a minimal background design is earthy tones or neutral colors. You can pair this with clean fonts and other graphic elements that are unique, stand out, but aren’t too loud and bold.
The vibe you’re looking for is calm and soothing. An advantage of minimal design is how easy it is to tweak it and have it mirror your brand palette and what it stands for.
Now that you have a good idea of what kind of techniques you can use to make a beautiful background with a simple design for your projects, it’s now time to look at some specifics. Here are some important tips you should know when making a creative yet simple background design.
The first rule when using shapes and block text is to keep in mind how detailed the images you are using are. The more detailed they are, the less elaborate should your elements be.
If your background is stuffed a lot design-wise along with your foreground, then your visual hierarchy will suffer. Your audience will simply be put off far quicker and click out. This is where a simple background comes in handy.
It complements the overlaying elements and gives you more of a chance to focus on their visual details rather than have them be washed out because of a messy and packed background design. Using shapes is a great way to stop the text from drowning out and make them easier to read.
If you ever feel like the image in the background is making the overlay elements hard to read, a common technique is to blur out the image in the back. Although it may seem like a wacky idea at first, you might be surprised by how effective it really is.
Remember to preserve some texture and detail while using blur and crop the image in a way that the text is overlaid on more solid areas of the background to enable optimum contrast.
A good way to seamlessly blend all the elements on the page together is by putting a color overlay on top of the background image. This is also effective when you want to incorporate brand colors to the background that may otherwise be a different palette.
Take a good look at the composition of your background design and make sure the text is overlaid in a manner where it is either lighter or darker than the background colors. This will enhance readability and give it a more polished finish.
If you want a well-composed layout, it’s better to divide the different sections on your page using grids. This will give you more space when working on the background design.
Using grids is one of the most highly engaging applications that can allow you as a designer to let your imagination run wild. Try using colors that fill empty cells with flat colored palettes to achieve a funky balance.
Another thing you can try is contrasting text over colored cells or using converging lines in a unique way to create a distinctive pattern.
Creating and using the right background is pretty much the backbone of the creative design process. You can explore all these different techniques and methods until you can find something that works for you.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and break the rules if that’s what it takes to bring something new and innovative to the table.
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