“Should I have a website with a light background or a dark background?”
This is a question that we often get asked by our clients at KIKLAB.
One of the most important factors when deciding upon a light or dark background for your website is readability. A seminal study carried out by Richard H. Hall from the University of Missouri found that reading black text on a white background is significantly easier than reading white text on a black background. This is because white letters tend to bleed into the black background causing a blur effect and making the eyes work harder as a result. Have a look at the two examples below to see for yourself.
Black text on a white background is easier to read because the light is absorbed by each letter rather than reflected.
White text on a black background is harder to read because the light is reflected and letters appear to be blurred.
In addition to this, human beings have been reading black text on white pages for centuries so therefore it is something that people are used to and familiar with.
Search Engine Optimisation
Readability is important so that your visitors can absorb the content of your website quickly and easily. And if it’s easy to read the content of your website, they’re likely to stay for longer and explore multiple pages. But did you know that Google actually uses readability and visitor time as part of it’s algorithm for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? So by making your website more reader friendly (with a white background), you can actually improve your SEO performance.
A study carried out by the University of Winnipeg in Canada showed that people make up their minds within 90 seconds of visiting a website and about 62‐90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone. So yes, it’s clear that the design of your website is very important and this includes the colour of your background.
Take a few minutes now and visit some of the websites of the biggest brands in the world. For example, Adidas, Microsoft and Toyota. Do they have light coloured backgrounds or dark coloured backgrounds? You’ll probably find that the majority of the biggest and most popular websites have a light colour background because that’s what customers expect and it is easier for them to read the content. Sometimes it’s good to break away from the status quo, but when it comes to web design there are certain conventions in place for a reason.
There are, however, always some exceptions to the rule and here are a few examples of very well executed websites with dark backgrounds:
So why is it ok for some websites, but not for others?
If you take a look at Lamborghini and Jack Daniels you’ll see that the content is very heavily focused towards photographs and images rather than text. They can do this because their brands are extremely well established and the product they are selling is very visual. They have also commissioned top quality photography which integrates seamlessly with a dark background.
Netflix are a video streaming service so using a black background makes total sense because it allows viewers to concentrate on the video they’re watching. Having a white background would be like going to the cinema with the lights on. This applies to other streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video which also have black backgrounds on their websites.
What’s Best for You?
For the vast majority of our customers we definitely recommend using a light coloured background and dark/black text. The main reasons for this are to improve the readability of your content, make it an easier experience for your customers and to boost your SEO performance. This is backed up by scientific evidence and why the biggest brands in the world do the same thing apart from a few exceptions.
If you’d like us to help create or redesign the website for your business, please get in touch and we’d love to work with you.