As I look for new and interesting inspiration of web designs within our illustrious world wide web, I can only help but notice that the majority of solid, contemporary and commercial web design are heavily promoting the use of texture within their design. I’ve personally kept my eye on texture, but am admittedly guilty of neglecting its importance in modern web design. Why is it so important? Here’s why…

1. Texture is something that the print medium always had over web design

As highlighted in the image to the left (© 2011 Pentagram Design), texture has always been a massive factor in the outcome of a print design. Good print design not only taps in to people’s sense of sight, it also relies heavily on touch. Different touches evoke different emotions e.g. leather can connote class, and recycled card can connote environmental responsibility. Since web design is all behind a plastic/glass monitor, the sense of touch becomes redundant to the digital medium. Textured images revitalise that redundancy, making you want to touch the textures on the site. Reunion CC is a very good example of this:

2. It allows 100% backgrounds (the illusion of a wider site)

Repeatable patterns or textures can make all of the site look polished, rather than just a 960px box in the middle of the browser. Having your site free from modular boxes or containers and with a repeatable textured background generally gives the site an airier, wider feel. Check out Solid Giant for a good example of this:

3. They give a site the feel of intricacy

Cake Sweet Cake is another great example of using texture in web design, but the extent the designer’s have done it to on this site is admirable. Here is a screenshot of a small contact form they have styled. The form fields have striped background images, with a focus outline of two separate coloured borders. These inclusions give the site an immense amount of aesthetic and (in turn) commercial credibility:

4. Repeater textures are generally low in file size is a great little site for adding texture quickly to your site. It allows you to generate a transparent repeatable png that gives a grainy feel to your background. The 100x100pixel you download is around 25KB, which could probably be compressed more in Photoshop or Fireworks. Not bad for the quality it will add to your design. See it in action on the Bang Ideas website:

5. The texture makes the user want to click and explore

Shiny Buttons. Us humans are a diverse and intricate race of supreme intellectual beings. But no matter what class or background we originate from, we are all suckers for a shiny button. Having elements on you site that make the user want to ‘touch’, click and explore is only going to increase the productivity and conversions of a website. Swift Cover is a great example of a site that uses ‘shiny buttons’ as its main design tool to give the site a tactile and simple feel:

Other great textured sites:

Foundation Six
Visual Notion
Participatory Politics

Any more lovely textured sites you want to shout about? Give me a tweet on @creativeflynn. My opinion is that you should, but I’m biased.