Do you want a minimalist look that grabs reader attention without distracting from the purpose of your page? Grayscale web designs are the perfect choice for a simple, beautiful site that goes with nearly any color palette. Because gray is still a neutral shade, you can combine it with other hues to come up with a truly unique look that grabs attention.
Some designers might worry a grayscale design could be a bit blah, but we’ve gathered multiple examples to show that just isn’t the case. Not only can grayscale be rather exciting, but it will give your pages a unique look that sets you apart from competitors. You can use it to set a somber mood, add some elegance to your design or put the focus on elements other than the design.
In a study of 112 minimalist websites, researchers found 95% of them had monochromatic colors and extremely limited palettes. When you stick to neutrals, such as gray, you have a chance to add a pop of color for your call to action (CTA) button and really grab user attention.
The best way to learn how to utilize grayscale designs is by studying some of the more interesting ones out there. We looked at examples across many different industries and narrowed the options down to a handful that we think help people learn great grayscale design. Here are six of our favorites.
One & Only is a resort and wellness spa. Although the entire site isn’t in grayscale, many of their hero images and larger photographs are, giving the entire design a serene and muted feel that is attractive to those wanting somewhere to relax. Note how the designer used white text and accents to keep the calming mood of the design.
When there is a pop of color or break in the gray, it makes a huge impression on the user because it signals something important is happening. Note how headlines are white, for example.
Equity Distribution utilizes grayscale images to show the artists behind the platform. You’ll see a mix of music genres and personalities. The images almost look retro, but the platform is modern, showing any type of music is welcome.
Rather than stick with a straight grid layout, the site also staggers the images, creating a sort of puzzle for the user. The entire effect looks like a vintage photo collage you might see hanging on someone’s living room wall.
From the minute you land on the home page, you see grayscale tones on this site. One thing we really adore about the Hodbourg Wagner Architecture images is that the buildings they’ve worked one first appear in grayscale but when you scan over them they turn into color photographs. The effect shows the building comes to life. Mousing over each image engages the user.
Consider using grayscale designs but adding pops of color when the user takes some sort of action, such as moving the cursor over one of the images. You can use many different hues of gray to set the mood. A dark gray may be a bit more somber and stormy looking than a very pale silver.
The design of Hyphen’s website is quite interesting and utilizes grayscale in a unique way. Hyphen is a meal creation assembly line for restaurants. It is said to enhance the speed at which meals can be made and reduce the number of employees needed to do the work.
In an interesting design concept, they take the screen and split it in half. On the right are the grays and muted tones of the system and on the left is an employee and a customer with more color in the image.
While there is color down the page and in different spots, the focus remains on the gray equipment. Not technically grayscale in full, the site still utilizes grays to get the point across that the restaurant system brings things to life.
Aesthetics is a Swiss plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine center. The soft gray hues of the landing page pull the user to look at the text. Once site visitors read the headings, it’s clear what the brand offers.
To add a bit of interest and engage users, the designer added some movement to the background, creating an animated effect that is subtle yet gives the site a modern edge.
OVO Things takes grayscale and adds it to a video hero header. The main movement is seen in the foreground, which adds a pop of color via a cake. There is also a yellow flower to the left of the video. However, the background is gray scaled, putting the focus solely on the food.
Many of the product images on the site repeat the gray tones in the video, tying it all together. The lesson to learn from this site is that you can use part gray and part color to make a significant impact on users.
Gray is often seen as elegant. It is neutral enough to work with bright pops for the CTA or in some images. Use as much gray as possible to set the tone and then direct the user through the buyer’s journey with brilliant dabs of color.
With a grayscale design, you can add extra elements you might not be able to try with a bolder look. Test out different colors for your CTA, gray out what makes sense and get feedback from your users. Many sites use the muted shade quite brilliantly and you can, too.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.