Color choice is a critical part of the web design process. While colors like blue, green, and purple are popular for creating vibrant designs that stand out, muted or neutral colors can also be effective in the right situation.
Gray is a neutral color often viewed as conventional. Of course, there are many shades of gray, from light to dark. When used in web and graphic design, gray can evoke feelings of sophistication or elegance, mystery (especially darker shades), or strength and power.
Light gray is often an alternative to a more traditional white background. Darker grays can also be backgrounds with lighter text.
Heavy use of gray also allows brighter colors to pop, which is especially effective for directing viewers’ attention. When only a few elements in a design feature a pop of bright or bold colors, they’re sure to stand out from a gray or neutral background.
Showcase of Gray Websites
Let’s look at examples of gray websites, which can serve as inspiration for your designs and color schemes. Here, you’ll see several beautiful websites that feature gray instead of more colorful designs.
Many portfolio websites use a clean, minimalist design, allowing the work in the portfolio to be the center of attention. Studio Vi uses a clean design and layout with a light gray background. The gray background is consistent throughout the site, not just on the homepage.
Although there are no bright pops of color in the design, blue is used as an accent and for directing visitors’ eyes. When you click from one page to the next, a brief blue animation simulates one page sliding out and the other page sliding in.
Unbounce uses a dark gray background on its homepage above the fold. The colorful image and buttons with bright text and outlines stand out on the darker background. Lighter shades of gray and other neutral colors appear throughout the rest of the design.
You’ll also notice some bold colors used strategically within Unbounce’s design. For example, lower on the homepage is a call-to-action with a bright blue background that you can’t miss. And as you scroll down the page, the “start my free trial” button changes from why to blue while maintaining its spot in the sticky header.
Vela uses a unique website design that includes many stunning scrolling animation effects. The design also features a light gray background. Unlike most sites that use a simple solid background, Vela’s gray background has a very subtle texture. It’s not overpowering but adds a little extra character to the design.
Pact Media’s website features a gray, black, and red color scheme that allows the red elements to stand out. Most of the site uses the light gray background you see in the screenshot above, but the portfolio section uses red as the background color.
Litho’s one-page website (except for the documentation and support sections) uses a long design and a few different shades of gray. The top of the homepage uses a medium gray with some colorful screenshots.
You’ll see sections with light gray or dark gray backgrounds as you scroll down. Throughout the design, colorful screenshots, images, and icons provide bursts of color.
The website of Cyboro uses a simple black, white, and gray color scheme, and then certain elements include colorful gradients to stand out. In addition, the site has subtle animation effects and other small details that make the design come to life.
This designer’s portfolio site features animation effects and a minimalistic color scheme. The illustrations also help the design to stand out and make the experience more memorable. Aside from a few images, the design is monochrome, featuring only different shades of gray.
Bequant is one of the most beautiful gray websites. The design features different shades of gray, white, and some strategic pops of color. There are many scrolling animation effects that are worth checking out.
As a design collective, you would expect Fragment to have a beautiful website, and you won’t be disappointed. The site uses several shades of gray, from light to dark, and the only pops of color are from images included within the design. You’ll notice subtle scrolling animations that add to the design without being too heavy-handed.
You’d probably expect a motion and interactive design to have a portfolio site that uses movement and animation, which is the case for Philippe Neveu. The background is gray, but loads of colorful elements appear throughout the design.
You’ll see brief, colorful animations before the subsequent page loads when you click on the links in the header navigation menu. The site showcases plenty of personality, effectively attracting potential clients.
Colorful photos and images throughout the Dash Digital website stand out from the gray background and text. The animations also add to the elegance of the design.
While most of the sites in this showcase use a light gray background color, Phantom takes a different approach. The entire website, including the blog, features a dark gray background with white text.
The design also uses violet buttons to attract attention, and some colorful images and illustrations add some life to the design.
The PEAM website is very image-heavy, featuring beautiful photos from this product designer’s portfolio. The gray background is an excellent choice because it’s a bit different than a standard white background but still allows the photos to stand out.
Designer Cameron Sagey has a simple two-page personal website with a beautiful gray design. The homepage also serves as the portfolio page. Colorful images and screenshots stand out from the gray background as you scroll down the page.
Many gray websites are from designers or businesses in creative industries. Pallas, a legal firm, is an unusual example. Legal websites often use blue because the color is associated with trust. However, Pallas’s website has a professional and elegant feel with a gray background. Photos and images provide the only color in the design.
This architecture website uses a colorful, glowing animation at the center of the homepage that’s sure to stand out. It’s a striking design that breaks free from the ordinary.
As you scroll down the homepage, you’ll see scrolling animation effects. Beautiful photos throughout the site add color and visual interest. This gray design is certainly not dull.
InteriorLAB is another corporate website designed with a neutral gray color scheme. In addition, the site incorporates horizontal scrolling as you browse through the company’s projects. As you would expect from an interior design firm, this website features plenty of big, beautiful photos.
This creative studio uses gray as the base for its portfolio site. The site includes many colorful images, including animations. The colorful images and subtle gray background work very well together.
Perron Roettinger’s homepage is minimal above the fold, but as you scroll down, you’ll see several full-width, colorful images. The rest of the portfolio site also includes loads of big, beautiful images from past projects.
Giulia Saporito’s website uses a light gray background, but there are also some small bursts of color throughout the design. The footer with a yellow background is especially noteworthy. Of course, the work samples in the portfolio feature colorful images.
The website of architect Serge Di Giusto uses a minimalistic design and layout, along with a gray color scheme. The home page is very simple above the fold, but several colorful photos come into view as you scroll. The site also features some subtle animation effects.
Plug&Play uses a very dark gray, almost black, background above the fold. But the background is white as you scroll down and throughout the rest of the site. The site is an excellent example of a design that uses a dark background for a strong effect in just a small section of the design.
The homepage of Santi Jaramillo’s portfolio uses a gray background, but below the fold, there are many bright and colorful images. The About page uses a bold blue background instead of gray.
AIAIAI, a company that creates headphones, uses a gray design to create a professional, high-end image. Some of the images in the design are also greyscaled, but there are some strategic pops of color. While it’s a slightly unusual approach for an e-commerce site, the design works for creating a memorable brand.
Karpov, a jewelry brand, uses a gray design to create an elegant, high-end brand image. The design and layout are minimalist, with professional photos and scrolling animation effects.
Final Thoughts on Gray Websites
When you’re coming up with a color scheme for a new website design, gray may not sound like the most exciting choice. However, as we’ve seen through this showcase of gray websites, it’s possible to use this neutral color to create the brand image that you’re after. Gray works very well with a minimalist design style to create a sophisticated and professional brand image. Best of luck incorporating gray in your designs.