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The Elements of Web Design: Shape, Texture and Color

written by: Summer Banks•edited by: Robin L.•updated: 11/24/2008

The look and the feel of the web design is often based upon the shape, texture and color the web designer uses to create the site. Web development is closely related to the classic arts in the use of these thematic elements.

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    Shape is simply defined as a closed contour, which in turn is an element of its perimeter. The triangle, square or rectangle and the circle are the basic shapes in use. A form within a composition in a dimensional element is in actual sense the structure and shape of that element. Forms can take either two or 3-dimensional shapes and they can be abstract, realistic or anything else in-between. Oftentimes, the two terms, shape and form are used interchangeably and have thus been used synonymously in this article. In actual sense though, form is brought about by combining points, lines and shapes.


    Texture creates surface look and is related to a form’s physical composition. Texture will often be used to describe the material a substance is made of. Texture can be created by use of the elements that have just been discussed. This element is both a concrete and a visual phenomenon.


    Color is perceived by the eyes as different levels of radiation wavelengths within the observable spectrum. Light is the part of the visible electromagnetic spectrum that is seen with the eyes. A human eye can see wavelengths of between 400 to 700 nanometers. On the high edge of the visible spectrum is the red color with a wavelength of 700nm while violet occupies the lower end of the visible spectrum. All other colors fall within this range.

    There are different color systems and many theories about color. We will discus in detail this topic in a later column. Here, we will consider some basics and the color wheel will be used to illustrate. There are three main color components:

    Hue: this is where the color is found on a color wheel. The hue of a color is defined by terms as red, grayish-green or mauve.

    Value: Defines the darkness or lightness of a color. In general, it defines how close a given color is to black or white.

    Saturation: This tries to describe the intensity or level of luminance of a color. The higher the amount of gray in a color the less saturated it is.

The Elements of Web Design

Web design is about more than the world wide web. The web development of a page or site requires knowledge of basic art, functionality and flow.
  1. The Elements of Design in Web Development: Intro, Line and Point
  2. The Elements of Web Design: Shape, Texture and Color
  3. The Elements of Web Design: Color
  4. The Elements of Web Design: Topography, Pattern and Movement