Row of 4 blue apples and 1 yellow lemon in front of a light blue background, highlighting contrast of colors

Why Contrast Is Important In Design

Nothing will discourage a potential customer more than an ad or website that's hard to read. Contrast may sound like a minor thing, but it's one of the most important principles of a well designed ad or website.


No it is not a blank graphic, and nothing is wrong with your screen. And no, you don't need to have your eyes examined. The problem, unlike the text, is easy to spot - there's not enough contrast.

Let's talk about what contrast means to graphic designers.

  • Contrast in terms of the relative difference between light and dark areas.
  • Contrast in terms of the sizes and shapes of fonts, illustrations, and the general layout of an ad, graphic, or website.



Nothing will discourage a potential customer more than an ad or website that's hard to read. If they can't read the content they'll move on to the next thing, and that's not what you want to motivate people to do. And yet, all too often there will be ads that look well designed, but the font is practically the same color of the background, and wait, what did that ad say? You're squinting your eyes, moving closer to your monitor, trying to pinch and zoom on your phone in the hopes that a bigger image will make the text visible. Frustrated users will give up on the effort of trying to read your ad; they'll scroll past it, they'll turn the page in the magazine, they'll leave your super cool and trendy-looking website because they can't actually read what's on it. And that potential customer now becomes a missed opportunity, because you didn't have enough contrast in your design.


The color contrast between two design elements is probably the first thing people think of when it comes to contrast in graphic design. But contrast in terms of size and shape helps create a hierarchy of information that makes it easy for people to find the most important content. If your heading and paragraph and phone number (or call-to-action button on a website) is all the same size, font, and color, then it all blends together making it hard to find the most important pieces of information. Plus, it's visually boring, and who has ever chosen a business or service provider because they saw an ad or website and thought "wow that looks boring, I'll give them a shot!"

Take these two ads, for example. The first one has poor color contrast (can you even read what it says at the bottom?) and absolutely no contrast in terms of size or shape. Because all that text is exactly the same size, your eyes don't know what to look at first. All the information is so mixed up together that you lose the message. The second ad, however, has high contrast between all the light and dark areas so you can always see the text. There's a hierarchy of content created by the contrast in size and style of the font, so it's easy to see what the ad is about, what the descriptive content is, and where you should click to call. The contrast in the design of the call-to-action button, with the border and icon, compared to the rest of the text helps to visually explain that this is an important piece of content.

Contrast may sound like a minor thing, almost always overlooked or forgotten, but it's one of the most important principles of a well designed ad or website. Don't let bad designs ruin your good ads.


We here at Alt Media Studios know what makes a design good, and what will draw the attention of potential customers to your business. Whether you're looking for a website, digital ads, or print ads, we can design what you need. Contact us today to get started!


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