How to find the best backdrops for your next project?

A good background can make or break a website

Designing a website? One of your first considerations is going to be your background. The CSS background-image property has meant that tiled backgrounds are more efficient and load much faster, and they can be configured to be easy on the eye. In this article, we’ll look at the top five free resources for web backgrounds.

Subtlepatterns lets you preview your background as a tile before downloading

1. Subtlepatterns.

Subtle is the word of the web – and subtlepatterns is devoted to the exact kind of gentle, non-intrusive background flavouring your website is craving. Kiss goodbye to block colours and gradients – these tile-based backgrounds are small, editable (through a program like Photoshop) and beautiful. Highly recommended.

Five Top Free Background Resources

Background Labs is a little more in-your face

2. Background Labs.

If you’re after something a little more punchy than subtle, Background Labs is a great place to start looking. Probably more apt for gutterings and footer embroidery than site-wide use – it might well interfere with the legibility of your site – there are a host of options to customise your search. This is just as well, as the background database is huge.

Dribbble is a must-bookmark repository for any designer – and the search tool is indispensable

3. Dribbble.

One of the largest and most successful pixel-designer communities on the web, Dribbble has an invite-only entry list, which means that the submissions on this site are consistently top-quality. The ‘Explore’ function allows you to search by colour, highlight, or tags, which is useful when stripping out projects that aren’t backgrounds. Popping in ‘background’ will leave you with some eye-wateringly beautiful free options. Dribbble has an unofficial sister website, Fribbble, which picks out cream-of-the-crop free downloads provided by community designers on Dribbble.

Interfacelift has sections especially for tablet-optimised backgrounds

4. Interfacelift.

Interfacelift has sections that specialise in cross-device compatibility, especially for tablet browsers. With one in four tablet owners saying that their tablet is their primary computer, effective backgrounds for tablet devices is of real concern to the web design industry.

BGPatterns allows you to make your own customised tile-based background

5. BGPatterns.

A slightly different twist on the regular background providers, BGPatterns actually allows you to make your own background as you go. You can select colours, images, silhouettes, opacity – even the location of the image. It’s designed to make tiles, which is great for bandwidth-strapped mobile data users (in fact, it’s better for everybody – tiled backgrounds make for more responsive websites). The best bit? There’s a ‘Preview on Page’ button which instantly shows you how your background will come across. It couldn’t be easier. Visit for more tips.

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