Creating web design with transparency can be a double-edged sword: it can either be beneficial to your site or it can be detrimental. Transparency is the result when a color block, text or image is made thinner or desaturated so that the color appears ‘diluted’ and what’s behind it shows through.

When used properly and effectively, this particular effect can be quite visually stunning; creating a great place for text or as a way to focus on a certain part of an image.

Web designers must be extra careful when using this effect. Transparency can be tricky to do well, as readability is often a major concern. Transparent boxes and text at the wrong levels can also be distracting and might take away from the overall design.

Here, we’ll share with you some do’s and don’ts in executing transparency beautifully and effectively.



Use Transparency to Create Contrast

Perhaps the greatest benefit of using transparency for your web design is to create contrast. The effect allows you to establish a focal point with a clock of color, big text over an image or as a diverse color screen with dimension. Transparency can also be used to help text stand out from a background that may not showcase it as well.

It’s very important to consider contrast when working with transparency. A transparency will only work well when both the image (or background) and text are readable. Before using this effect, ask yourself first whether or not it will make the text/image easier for users to understand.

Use Transparency with Static and/or Rotating Images

Using transparent effect isn’t just limited to a single-page or static design. It can also work with various images and backgrounds. Why not use transparency in both ways?

Creating transparency for rotating images can be one of the trickiest executions of this effect, but it can also be one of the best. Think carefully about multiple background images. Pick out images that have the same color and contrast schemes so that a single transparency will work while the image background moves behind it.

Pay close attention to how the transparency fits over each image so that you maintain the integrity of each image, create a readable image or other background and text, and maintain visual consistency.


Use Transparency in Small Spaces

Transparencies aren’t just for the main part of your website. This effect also works great in small spaces!

Think about using this effect to show off navigational tools or as a hover effect for buttons and clickable elements. Just try not to overdo it and go crazy with multiple transparencies. Choose an element and transparency style, and stick to it throughout your web design.


Use Transparency in the Background

Transparency isn’t just for elements at the forefront of your web design. It can also be used for background images. Some of the best transparent elements are subtle. Others may fall in between layers. Some websites even use a brilliant set of layering techniques with transparency to create a multidimensional design. Don’t be afraid to experiment with transparencies!


Use Transparency as an Art

Transparency isn’t just a secondary effect. Consider creating a dominant image for your website using this effect. A large transparency can be a striking way to create contrast, emphasis, and visual intrigue.

Use Transparency in Different Levels

There’s no perfect level for transparency. For some projects, an 80% transparency is just right, but for others, 15% may be more ideal. Make sure to experiment with varying levels of transparency for each of your projects to find out what works for you best.


Place Transparency over Images with Sharp Contrast

Because readability is a major concern, it’s best to avoid using transparent effect over items that already contain elements with sharply contrasting elements. Think pockets of black and white or colors that are opposites on the color wheel.

Using transparency over these types of elements, unless really saturated, can have a negative effect on your design because it can be difficult to create the correct effect across all parts of the background. Consider using a tint box instead.


Cover Important Parts of an Image

Transparent effect shouldn’t cover parts of a background or image beneath it that’s important to convey the message. Be wary of what is ‘lost’ when determining placement of transparent frames.

Think Transparency Will Make Text Legible

Using a transparent box for your text doesn’t necessarily mean the text is automatically readable. Think about contrast, both in terms of the transparent box to the text and from the background image to the transparent frame.

When using this effect for your photos, colored boxes or text, it’s essential to consider the readability of the words. Remember that your message will not be communicated if design effects render text illegible.

Use Too Many Transparencies Simultaneously

Limit the use of different types of transparencies to only one per project. This effect should create distinction, contrast, and visual appeal. Using too much of a distinctive effect such as transparency can be distracting for your site visitors.


Use Transparency as an Embellishment

Transparency isn’t an effect to add as an afterthought when you’re bored with a design. Using this effect as a form of decoration can be detrimental to your web design.

The use of transparency should be well thought out and planned in advance. It’s not a simple effect such as bolding and will only look sloppy and unprofessional if not done correctly.