The new fad is to place background images behind text. Best practice guidelines say it's important for the image to be relevant to the content. From a usability point of view, the content is less readable. You see this happening a lot on apple.com.

I'm curious what the big guys like the NN/Group would have to say about this. Bad for usability, marketing guys want it... worth it? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

And thank you to the mods who want to call this question a duplicate, but I'm talking about text on top of background images. The other question on this talked about color consistency affecting contrast. Thanks for your consideration.

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2 Answers 2


Designers widely call this as approaches to minimal design though highly debatable. In simple this makes the Comtent repo creation easier and job of visual designer simple since he has to take care of only two components in a full viewport as opposed to loads of content in usual approach. All that has to be taken care is the proper contrast with text against background. Visual designers challenge is when the bg image is dynamic for aesthetics or demography targeting purposes. Bulrring the image behind a bit and or adding a transparent contrasting background as placeholder to text does the job for handling dynamic image.

From full-cycle UX point of view image conveys lots of meaning provided the basic physiological rules are taken care of like; choosing image based on demography; chop the direct eye contact since it is natutal response to look at the eye and the content loses importance, etc. Users do not have time to read all the content so provide short crisp content and aid with not-disturbing bg image. This puts lesser mental load to conceive the content. Plus the page will not bland but colourful or interesting based on the bg. This improves user engagement model.

Generally when you have wide demographic audience, unless the image is properly choosen this will make more harm than good. E.g: When I apply for international unviersity I would like to see students from my country/my race of people rather showing students of different race where the university is located. This brings trust rather just using image for aesthetics purposes or restricted just to local targeting.


I think from a design point of view the attempt is to create a strong link between the image and the text. This only works if the design elements align harmoniously, which is difficult to do since the colours of the image and also the text are not usually designed together (i.e. the text and image are produced separately or by different people). However, I think normally people find having both the image and text at the same area of focus means that you try to process both at the same time, which is probably not as effective as a striking image linked with the text to give it a stronger meaning or context, or a strong text associated with an image to help someone remember it.

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