Website designers are creative souls who enjoy going boldly where no other designer has gone before and aren’t afraid to break a few rules to get there. Professional designers would agree that there are exceptions to every rule, and you can and should break some rules to pull off a design if the situation warrants it.
However, in the case of a white background, it’s very rare for websites to benefit when designers stray from this rule.
We’re not saying you should use white all the time but here are a few reasons why a white background is most often the wisest choice in website design.
When you use light fonts on a dark background, the light bounces around on the screen and gets all mashed together before it hits the eyes. As a result, readers must struggle to bring the words into focus, which makes the reading experience uncomfortable.
Dark backgrounds also tend to reflect light back into the reader’s eyes, which has the effect of making the text appear jumbled. The result; your visitors are more likely to hit the back button to escape the torture, rather than struggle through the rest of the page.
Pure black on a pure white background doesn’t always work either, as the extreme colour contrast causes the eyes to work harder than they should. Instead, designers should use dark greys on white for reduced eye-strain.
Humans have been reading black text on white backgrounds since the dawn of the printing press, so we are used to it. Plus, when it comes to writing stuff down on a physical notepad, black isn’t the go-to page colour; it’s usually white. If people do choose a non-white colour for their notebook, they invariably use pale colours and never black.
When websites became a thing, the default background colour of choice was white, just because that’s what the people wanted.
As the World Wide Web made its way into more homes and amateur designers were throwing up websites all over the world, there was much experimentation happening, with flashing text on fluorescent backgrounds sending people straight to the back button.
Some of the designs could have been called successful, but the majority deserved nothing more than the delete button.
When you use many images in your design, and you stray from the traditional white background, you are going to struggle to find pictures which will work naturally with your colour choice.
With a white background, you can rarely go wrong, as all colours naturally go well with white. As an example, if you have a grey background and you come across an image that perfectly complements your message, but it’s predominantly blue, it will look terrible on your dark themed page. However, you won’t have the same problem if you stick with white.
Today’s website is a multicultural affair; you just never know who is going to land on your site as they could be in any country and have any type of cultural background. White is a neutral colour which signifies calmness, peace, or joy in many cultures around the world.
If you decide to go with a colour other than white, your choice might not reconcile with some of your viewers because of the culture in which they grew up.
Fashions change on the web – remember when everyone was going for the 3D look and were creating all of those terrible 3D buttons which flashed and did a dance whenever the mouse cursor came near?
Thankfully, the web has transitioned into a more reasonable and eye-friendly flat design. White has always remained a staple colour choice, has never gone out of fashion, and is not likely to in the future.
Some designs are hard to look at even for young eyes, so imagine the torment you will be inflicting on your older visitors if you go with less traditional and darker design choices for your website background.
Using darker colours as background on a website can often lead to a page that feels cramped, constricted, and difficult to navigate naturally with the eyes.
Using a lighter shade opens up the design and gives the impression of more room, which allows you to fit more information on the page while maintaining the flow.
You aren’t stuck with a pure white background, as you can always choose a shade that is slightly off-white to give your page some extra personality, while still having the design advantages white backgrounds provide.
In responsive layouts, a non-white background needs complicated CSS and HTML coding to show up correctly on multiple devices. If you use white, the edge of your design will be invisible, so no coding is necessary to ensure the edges are the correct colour.
On occasion, dark-themed websites can capture the essence and emotion of a business, but careful consideration is needed, and these designs can be quite tricky to pull off. White is universal, is easy to work with, and fits in perfectly with just about every design element of a web-page.