The ubiquitous presence of white backgrounds on websites is something that many of us take for granted, but have you ever stopped to consider why these sites opt for a white canvas? After all, why embrace a blank white screen instead of a moodier, darker theme? The answer may surprise you.
First and foremost, we have usability to thank for the prevalence of white backgrounds. White is a neutral color that is easy on the eyes, and its shine helps to make text and images more readable. This is especially true if you are using a bright device, as the white background will help to reduce any glare. Additionally, white is a great base for designers to start with, as it allows them to layer elements on top of it without clashing.
From a psychological standpoint, white is associated with trust and cleanliness. This is why many medical facilities and law firms opt for white as part of their branding. Similarly, many websites choose white backgrounds to give off a sense of professionalism and dependability. This is especially true for e-commerce stores, as customers need to feel like they can trust the company before making a purchase.
White backgrounds can also help to make an impact. While a dark background might muddle the design and make it more difficult to focus on the main elements, a white background serves as a blank canvas that allows the design to stand out. This is especially true for websites that use bright colors, as a white background will make the colors appear even more vibrant.
Finally, white is incredibly accessible for people with visual impairments. Darker themes can be difficult to make accessible, whereas white backgrounds tend to work better with screen readers and other tools. This is why many government websites, which are legally required to be accessible, use white backgrounds.
All in all, white backgrounds on websites make a lot of sense from a usability, psychological, and accessibility standpoint. While dark themes can have their place, white backgrounds are often the best way to go for most sites.