This one element can make your homepage or landing page look very professional or really amateurish...

Your background image.

After looking at hundreds of homepages and landing pages we keep seeing the same issues over and over again.

These issues hurt your conversions and your brand.

Fortunately, with Thrive Suite, it’s incredibly easy to create beautiful background images for your pages and page templates. With Thrive Theme Builder you can create page and post templates for any purpose and use the drag-and-drop editor to add your background images, gradients, and patterns, so all your pages and posts are automatically populated with your custom design choices. Thrive Architect let’s you visually design gorgeous single-use pages (like landing pages for marketing) and posts, so you can customize individual pages to your heart's content. 

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The good news is that you can fix your background designs in 4 simple steps!

Keep reading to learn more.


The Most Common Problems With Website Background Images

There are two obvious and two less conspicuous problems with background images.

The Obvious: Speed and Readability.

We noticed that many background images took a long time to load. This happens when the image is too big or not optimized for the web. This is annoying for visitors, but is also a negative factor for SEO.

The second and even bigger problem is readability. Unfortunately, some images just don’t play nice with text overlays which can make your actual homepage message impossible to read.

The title of your homepage or landing page is the most important element of that page. It's what gets visitors to stick around and read on. If that title is hard to read because it doesn't overlay well on your background image, chances are that new visitors will bounce rather than squinting to figure out what your website is trying to offer.

The Less Obvious: Brand Image and Clarity

Not every business can afford to have custom images taken by a good photographer. Luckily, there are a lot of websites that offer free, natural looking stock images. But this also means that everybody has access to the same photos.

Using the exact same stock image as your competition can hurt your brand image and make you blend in rather than stand out from the crowd.

I talked about this in depth in the article "How to Use Free Stock Photos on Your Website Without Hurting Your Conversions".

The choice of your image also plays a big role in the clarity of your message.

Because of the growing trend in full screen background images, we’ve seen businesses use them even though the actual image has nothing to do with the product or service they provide.

You shouldn't use an image just for the sake of having an image...

If you can't find a photo that’s closely related to your business, ask yourself if using an image is the best choice here. You can make a good looking design using colors, gradients and patterns rather than images. That's exactly what the websites below are doing.

Examples of websites that use colors, gradients and patterns rather than images for backgrounds.

Having an unrelated image is bad for clarity, but so is counting on the image to do all the talking.

If the image is necessary to understand what the website is about, you will have a big problem with SEO.

Search engines can only read code. They can not “see” images. An image like the one below will never help the site rank for anything fitness related.

Bad website background image example

Don't count on your image to do all the talking...

The only thing Google can read on this image is "Become a Better You".

Although you can add attributes to your images to help search engines understand what the image is about, it will never be as visual for your “human” visitors or have the same impact on your rankings as words in a big homepage headline will.

Now that we’ve covered the 4 problems with background images, let’s see how you can avoid making the same mistakes. 

Follow the next 4 steps and you'll never have these problems again on your site.

Step 1: How to Choose Your Background Image

First question: What image will help you communicate your core message?

Brainstorm a bunch of words you would like to have pop up in the visitor's mind when landing on your website.

Now, go to a free stock images sites such as pixabay, or Pexels and put the words in the search engine to see what comes up.

Of course if you have original, high quality photos, that’s even better.

Look for an image with uniform colors. A text overlay on an image with very dark and very light areas will always be harder to read than a more uniform image.

good and bad website background images

Images with uniform colors are more suited as background images.

Download the photos you like in a resolution that's at least 1920 px wide.

Step 2: Optimize Your Image for Speed

Now that you have your image in the right dimensions (1920 px), it’s time to optimize it for the web.

If you have Thrive Suite and you're using one of our conversion-focused companion themes, Thrive Theme Builder's built-in optimize function will take care of this step for you. You can see how to use this cool feature here.

But if you're not, you can use an image optimizing tool, we recommend

Select the "web interface" option and upload your image. Download your optimized website and add it to your website.

The data size of your image is instantly reduced without any visible loss in quality!

Step 3: Improve the Readability of Your Text Overlays

Now there is one simple trick to making any image instantly more suitable for a text overlay.

What this simple trick?

Adding a color overlay on top of your background image.

With Thrive Suite, this is super simple.

You'll need Thrive Theme Builder (for your site-wide theme customizations) and Thrive Architect (for your single-use page and post customizations). You won't need a separate photo edition tool!

  • Add a background section to your page and make that section full width
  • In the "Background Style" menu add first a solid color (this will allow your text overlay to be readable even when your photo is still loading)
  • Then add a second background layer. This time choose the image overlay and insert your background image. Make sure the dimensions are set to "full width".
  • Now, add a third background layer. This time add a color overlay but reduce the opacity to make the photo visible again. Typically, adding a white (#ffffff) or black (#000000) overlay works best. 
  • That's it!

If you want to go fancy, you could add a gradient overlay instead of a solid color on top of the image.

And if you're looking to use a photo of yourself then you suggest checking out this tutorial: Create a Pro Looking Hero Image Header

Step 4: Make Your Mobile Visitors Happy

These type of big background images look amazing on desktop. But what about mobile?

The very first question is, do you want this image to show on mobile? Maybe you can just simply use a colored or gradient background.

In that case, go to the mobile view and delete the background image.

If you want to keep the background image, make sure to:

  • Reduce the text size of the title
  • Decide where you want the image to be scaled from. This will have an impact on which part of the image is shown.
  • Reduce the background section height.

If you want to learn more about how to add background sections to your pages, check out this Thrive Knowledge Base article on background sections.

Website Background Image Checklist

  • Choose a photo with uniform colors from Pixabay, Stocksnap or Pexels.
  • Download it at 1920 px width.
  • Reduce the weight of the image with Kraken.
  • On your site, add a background section and set it to "Stretch to fit screen width".
  • Add a solid color as the first background layer (dark color if light text, light color if dark text).
  • Add background image at full size as the second layer.
  • Add white or black overlay and set opacity at less than 100% so that the photo shows as the third layer.
  • Check and optimize mobile view by either removing the image or switching the anchor point.

Bonus Tips: Build an Impressive, Conversion-Focused Website with Thrive Suite

If you really want to make your website look better so your target audience stays on it for longer…

You’ll need to do more than just find the right background image for your website. 

What if you could design a super impressive website in rapid time – without needing to learn a single line of code?

With Thrive Suite, you can easily create a stunning website that turns more of your target audience into eager, paying customers.

Here’s what Thrive Suite can do for you:

It's Your Turn Now to Create Stunning Background Images

Now you have everything you need to make your website look professional and impressive. If you want more tips to create a conversion-focused website, check out these resources:

Ready to take your website to the next level?

Build your stunning, conversion-focused website today.

About the Author Chipo

Chipo is a content marketer, digital consultant, and seasoned freelancer with a keen interest in tech, marketing, and the future of work. She helps both graduates and solopreneurs set up their personal brands so they can thrive online. When she’s not working, she’s reading, dining out, and watching old seasons of Grey's Anatomy.

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