I keep seeing SunBurst Background Pattern for years, literally! and it is still trendy. Why is it still so? Do we lack creativity for similar generic (or focus drawing) background patterns or human psychology has bias against it?

Secondly, have there been any other so obvious background pattern trends?

Note: I asked the question in graphicdesign.stackexchange at first. Having got no answer and having doubts on the appropriate site for this question, I decided to ask here as well. If this parallel questioning against the rules of SE, I might just as well delete one.


A few examples from a Smashing Magazine piece on website backgrounds.

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    Definitely belongs on graphicdesign and not here. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 1:29
  • @Patrick McElhaney, which part didn't you understand? Those people in graphics.stackexchange.com don't have any problem with this question, apparently graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/2718/…
    – Özgür
    Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 1:12
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    @Patrick McElhaney, I think, this question is just as related to UX as to graphicdesign. It could still beneficial for the members of ux.SE. So, you might as well reopen it.
    – Özgür
    Commented Jul 10, 2011 at 10:14
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    @Charles, if you cite Jeff as the authority when it supports your claim, then shouldn't you recognize his authority also when it doesn't..? As someone has recently said on meta, very inconsistent. Jin also thinks that it's on-topic - poorly worded, but on-topic. Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 5:28
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    @Charles, see this answer: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/8705/…. It's a great example of the kind of answers this type of question will generate, and a great example of why this question is appropriate for the site. Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


This pattern works because it focuses the viewer's eyes onto the product sold/blog entry/whatever content. It does have a simple psychological trick that is probably better understood with photographic backgrounds.

Take a really beautiful photo that is well composed with a foreground subject in the middle and nicely framed by the background. You may have plenty of candidate photos in your own collection from various places around the world.

Now stretch it up to fill a webpage background and put a 960px wide column of content over the top. This obliterates the foreground subject of the photo and a large part of the background. However, the outer, framing of background is still present and still has the qualities that made it work so well in the original picture. Because of this it works really well as a background.

The starburst picture is similar in that even with the middle missing it still serves to focus the eye on the centre.

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    Your answer makes sense, but I've seen a lot of 'starburst' backgrounds where the sun is placed in one of the corners, or at least off-centre. I'd probably put this one down to plain old fashion. Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 18:28

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