Textures can be used in web and graphic design to add character or to help complete a design. In some cases, the texture may be a prominent part of the design. However, in today’s web design, subtle use of texture is far more common.
Several years ago you would see a lot of sites designed with large, grungy textures as a central focal point of the design. Now, most uses of texture are more subtle, but they can have an equal impact on the design.
In this post, we’ll showcase 20 different textured websites to provide you with inspiration. Although the use of texture in web design has changed over the years, textures are still relevant and helpful in the right situation.
Before we showcase these example sites, we’ll look at the different approaches you can take to incorporate texture into your designs.
Ways to Incorporate Textures Into a Web Design
The showcased sites will serve as inspiration, and you can use any of the methods covered here to create your own designs with texture.
Textured Photos Layered in Photoshop
One of the easiest ways to incorporate texture into your design is to start with a texture from a photo or a scan and use it as a layer in your work in Photoshop. You can use the various blend modes available in Photoshop to apply the texture to any element in your design.
Many textures are readily available, or you can create your own, so this is an easy way to get started with textures.
Another easy way to add texture to a design is through the use of Photoshop brushes. There are a vast number of brushes available that will add different types of textures. This includes everything from heavy grunge textures to soft and subtle textures to brush strokes. If you have access to the right Photoshop brushes, adding texture is easy.
Repeating or tileable patterns can also be used to create texture. You can either use pre-made Photoshop patterns or create your own. You can apply patterns easily to any layer in your design, making it an ideal option.
Many websites today use large photos for full-screen backgrounds or just as an integral part of the design. If a large photo includes some textured elements, it can have the same impact on the overall design as if the texture had been created in Photoshop. You’ll see several examples like this in the showcase. For this approach to work, you just need to find the right photo with the right texture or use an overlay to apply some texture.
Showcase of Textures in Web Design
Enough talk about textures… Let’s look at some examples.
Mad River’s website is one of my favorite uses of texture in modern web design. The homepage’s background is a beautiful nature illustration, and subtle texture has been added to it, It’s not an overpowering grungy texture, but it’s heavy enough that it’s easily noticeable.
Marketplace’s homepage uses a full-width slider that rotates between a few different backgrounds. One of them, shown above, is a black and white photo with some texture applied. This somewhat subtle use of texture resembles natural film grain.
The texture at Vela’s site is so subtle that I’m showing it at 100% (above) so it can be clearly seen. It’s just an ever-so-subtle texture on the background that is barely noticeable but still gives the design some added character.
RumChata’s website includes texture in a few different places. Some of the photos include natural texture, like a wood table top. However, the most significant use of texture is part of the orange patterned background. The retro font also incorporated subtle texture to give it a natural, aged appearance.
The design of Solo Pine’s website is very clean overall. However, there is some texture introduced through the header image. The black and white photograph of trees on a foggy day includes film grain texture.
The approach used here is very similar to what we saw earlier from Marketplace. Using texture through a photo in this way allows the primary part of the design to remain neat and clean.
Rather than using a more traditional navigation menu design, Almanac takes a unique approach by adding small amounts of texture to the header in the way of some black specks. It’s a somewhat subtle use of texture, but it has a significant impact on the overall design.
Basic’s use of texture is very subtle, but it looks amazing. Simple black and white designs can be quite impactful on their own, but Basic incorporates a very slight texture to the black background. The end result is some additional character and a more unique design.
This design agency website uses a textured background that’s one of the focal points of the design. It’s not an overwhelming texture, but the design is otherwise very simple, allowing the texture to stand out.
Revelation Concept uses a canvas or fabric texture for the background of its site. The texture isn’t heavy, but the impact on the overall design is strong because it’s used on the full background. You could easily recreate this type of look by using a seamless Photoshop pattern.
The body of The License Lab’s website is clean, but the header includes a dark leather texture. You could accomplish something similar with your design using a textured photo, a Photoshop brush, or a repeating pattern.
Deconstructing First Families isn’t a full site, but it’s a lengthy page at The Washington Post that uses a custom design and layout. The neutral-colored background uses a subtle textures look that could be replicated with a repeating pattern.
ModSquad incorporates texture with an image of a cloudy sky sitting behind a billboard. The clouds have a watercolor texture. To do something similar, you could find stock elements created with watercolors or create your own from scratch.
Harpoon’s website uses a repeating line pattern background, a great example of a creative way to incorporate texture. When you visit the site, you’ll need to scroll down below the fold to see the background pattern.
Upland’s web design uses a grid pattern to give the background some subtle texture. The grid lines are light gray on a way background, creating a small amount of texture instead of a more drastic look. If you want to do something similar with your own design, you can use a repeating Photoshop pattern to create grid lines or another type of subtle pattern.
RipePlanet’s site features a dark background. But rather than just a flat color, a seamless line pattern gives it some texture. This use of a pattern shows how much of an impact a simple change can have on the overall design.
The homepage at Harry’s features two large product photos, and both images feature a textured background in a neutral color. In this case, no texture was added to the design. Instead, the texture was used as a background for the photos, and the photos added the element of texture to the site’s appearance.
EasyGreen’s website features a bold green background, which is an obvious fit for this site. However, instead of a simple solid background, the design uses a very subtle texture. The texture adds to the natural and organic feel of the site. You can accomplish the same thing by using a seamless textured pattern to create a background.
Final Thoughts on Textured Websites
While the use of texture in web design isn’t the same as in years past, there are still some effective ways to incorporate texture within your designs. Instead of using a big, aggressive, grungy background (which would give your design a dated look), you can subtly incorporate texture.
Hopefully, this showcase of textured websites helped to provide some inspiration and ideas you can implement in your work.