Figuring out ways of connecting with your audience via your website isn’t always easy. Your design aesthetics are a vital component in the fight to keep visitors on your page once they land there. Texture is just one way you can make your site better to look at and add some personality and interest to your design.
According to Internet Live Stats, there are around 1.7 billion websites online, but only about 200 million of them are active. The competition may not be quite as fierce as you think, but you’re still competing with many others who clamor to grab your users’ attention. Texture allows you to create compelling, realistic designs.
Even though texture adds some depth to your design, it can also distract from the message and cause a font to become almost unreadable. Be aware of where and how you use texture in the background, and you should be fine. You don’t need this design component everywhere, either. It’s okay to have it in a small section of a webpage. Here are six valid reasons why you should consider it in your site design:
1. Grabs User Attention
Many sites today take on a minimalistic look. The focus is on the offer and the call to action (CTA). However, there are times when you want to highlight some bits of information as more important than others. Texture allows you to set off a block of info and indicate to the reader that this is something they should pay close attention to. You could also use texture behind your CTA button to draw the eye naturally to the action you want users to take.
Uinta Brewing highlights their CTA with a textured background that looks like the outline of a mountain range. Note how the pattern repeats behind each type of beer they sell. Repeating similar elements draws the consumer’s eye down the page. The red background of the CTA button matches the red in the logo at the top of the page, tying everything together.
2. Shows Your Personality
If you’re designing a website from scratch, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. How do you create a site that reflects your purpose as a brand? Start by knowing what you stand for as a business. Add in your knowledge of your typical customer. Find textures that speak to your personality and your clients’ needs. If your brand is youthful and attracts millennials, then you might go for a fun pattern, such as repeating geographic elements in a bold color.
3. Defines Your Brand
You can also add texture that ties into the product you sell. People want visuals that showcase what you have to offer. They aren’t meeting you in person, so images and descriptions of your offerings are the only methods they have for deciding if they want to do business with you.
Think about the products you sell and how you might incorporate textures into your web design. If there is a pattern that makes people think of you, then use it in different marketing materials — including your website — to solidify your branding.
Energex sells PFI certified wood pellets. Hardwood pellets, such as their Ol’ Hick, are made from 100% wood and burn more consistently. Because the product ties to wood, the use of wood texture for part of their background makes perfect sense and is on-point with branding efforts.
4. Draws the Eye
When a visitor lands on your page, you want them to take a buyer’s journey through your site. Many distractions exist in the world and on your website. However, you can move the user more efficiently through the conversion process by drawing their eye toward where you want them to go.
For example, you might use a paper texture background with stamps. Here and there, you could feature an arrow pointing to an element you want them to see. Directional cues keep the person moving in the desired direction.
5. Offers a Unique Look
In some industries, websites tend to have a similar look. Many platforms have a navigation bar below the header and a call to action near the top and bottom. Even though you might use clear visuals of your product or service, users might still grow confused about which website they are on.
The travel industry offers a fitting example of repetitive designs. Nearly every hotel website you visit looks the same. If you don’t find a way to differentiate yourself, your audience may assume there’s nothing special about you.
Twin Dolphin is a premier living community. At first glance, the layout and look are very similar to other luxury community websites. There are aerial shots of the property, headlines and descriptions. However, the site takes on a unique look through the background’s paper texture. Images appear through “rips” in the paper. The peekaboo effect gives the design a unique appearance that catches the audience’s attention.
6. Highlights Information Architecture
Your landing page may have multiple distinct elements to reach all of your different buyer personas. Use texture to highlight various areas of information and indicate when there is a shift from one idea to the next. This type of depth in design is something the user may not consciously be aware of, but it will make them feel your site is easy to use and understand.
Try a Few Textures
Are you intrigued by the thought of how textures increase the usefulness of a website’s design? Start with one or two patterns where they make the most sense. Conduct some A/B testing to see how your customers respond to the changes. You’ll find you can use texture strategically to move people through your site in the direction you want them to go.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.