As any good web designer will tell you, making a website look good is all about paying close attention to the individual elements that combine to create the site. If you don’t spend the time making every block of text, every image, and every table look perfect, you’re simply not going to succeed. For most designers, utilizing the principle of contrast in web design is the number one way in which to make any given website stand out.
Why Is It Important To Use Contrast?
Contrast is essentially the noticeable difference between two or more elements. Contrast in web design is what highlights certain aspects of a webpage whilst muting others. In other words, it is contrast that makes certain features jump off the page.
If a website is constructed without contrast, it simply becomes bland and uninteresting. Nobody wants to look at uniform text with little or no differentiation, not least because reading from a screen is difficult enough. Likewise, nobody wishes to look at the same page over and over, which is how it would feel if all websites used a similar template. On top of this, using contrast correctly also allows for you to direct readers to specific areas on the page.
Contrast then becomes incredibly important. It not only makes a website easier to read, which in turn will lead to visitors staying on the page longer, but also gives the page its identity. This latter is incredibly important for companies and brands looking to make a big impact.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can use contrast to improve your website.
Examples of Contrast in Web Design
There are number of instances in which contrast is used on the web. The most obvious of these is the use of color contrast in web design.
Think of a football team and how their uniform colors are carefully selected to make them stand out from the opposition and look good at the same time. This is the same manner in which websites should be treated. By using contrasting colors, a designer can make a page easier on the eye as well as direct the flow and attention of the reader.
Using different color text immediately highlights specific words that you want the reader to read. This includes web-links. Also, using a variety of colors for specific pages or boxes on pages can bring that particular area to the foreground, or push it back. You’ll often see websites that feature important contact info or bullet points in a separately colored section for this very reason.
Of course, using bright colors in contrast to dull or pastel colors can create an impact also. It’s worth thinking about the readability of colors here though. For example, red text on a black background is hard on the eye, whereas black text on a mauve background is less so.
Using size to generate contrast is nothing new. Newspapers have been doing it for centuries. The headline is always in the biggest print with the article body smaller. Websites can be treated the same. The page header can be larger. The important information you’re trying to purvey can be bigger. Or you can shrink text that may slow reading down. Terms and conditions are often found in a smaller font.
It’s not just text size either. The size of images can make an impact, especially if there’s one image that drives home your point. Similarly, boxes and other graphics can be input at different sizes, thus highlighting or muting the content contained within.
3. Images and Text
The use of images and text can also be used to create a contrast. Putting text and a picture side-by-side will have a different impact to placing text below an image. As well as this, images are an excellent way of breaking-up long passages of text, or replacing text altogether. After all, they say an image is worth a thousand words.
The image does not need to be a photograph either. Here you can use logos or color-themed text that steps away from the traditional text format. Text format itself can generate a contrast; simply choose different fonts to emphasize different aspects of the text and, of course, be sure to utilize the bold and italicize functions. Similarly, contemplate using black and white images as well as full-color pictures. Again, the two will offer a contrast that jumps off of the page and straight at the reader’s eye.
In the printing world there’s been a never-ending debate as to the advantages of using justified (flush right) text as opposed to ragged-right. The former sees all text form a straight line downwards whereas the latter is, as the name suggests, ragged. This is the sort of argument that can be transferred to the principle of contrast in web design.
Firstly, which of these two formatting types is most beneficial to a website, but also, in terms of the alignment of the site as a whole. Getting the alignment of any website just right is difficult, and it’s recommended that you use precise, linear designs – there was a reason that all internet design used to be table-based. However, opting for off-center columns can make enhance a website.
Whichever methods you’re thinking of using, just realizing the importance of contrast in web design will immediately give you a step-up on the road to achieving a successful website.
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