Against my usual preferences, I'd have to say the fading blue background looks better... usually, I'm all for plain-is-better.
I haven't been able to find any good sources for bacground graphics, myself. Usually, if I see one I really like, I email the site's webmaster and ask if I can use it. They generally either say "Yes," or "Yes, if you give me credit."
BTW- Check your StickyMail :)
The blue looks better.
Why dont you just make the background yourslef? Any colour that then fades is really easy to do. Then you just use css to display it or put it in the cell or table background.
I've had a couple bad background surprises in my past -- one comes with exactly this kind of long vertical gif. Sometimes my page content gets too long and the image begins a second tile, putting a really ugly color band right across the page, right in the middle of what I hope is some excellent copy. The fix for this is the CSS attribute NOREPEAT. It seems to be rather well supported today (although not originally).
A second problem comes from table and table cell background images. Support has been very inconsistent cross browser, and jpg images sometimes give particularly weird results.
I recently found a pretty decent article [netmechanic.com] about the bugs involved with putting image backgrounds inside tables, and how do work-around. It even includes Netscape 6.
litmania_com: From a marketing standpoint you're better off using plain white backgrounds. Visitors like simple plain pages because it's so much easier to find what they're looking for. There have been a few articles written on the issue from both a webmasters view and from a psycological standpoint. I will try and find the URL for ya :)
I'm a big believer in backgrounds setting the "theme" of the site, but I've also had some bad surprises along the lines Tedster pointed out. To counter that, I've gone to huge tiles with a left-margin graphic [icw.net] (going for the 800x600 crowd) and then center the content in a table with a white background to hide any unforeseen clutter. Seems to work -no complaints, anyway.
Thank you, the advice has been most helpful :)
I've done a survey amongst acquaintances and so far it's 8 people opting for a fading blue background as opposed to 1 for a plain white background...
I would generally agree with 'ekprod'. Of the twenty-odd websites, I've created so far, ALL have had a plain white background. However, this time, after hearing other people's views, I think I'll experiment with a very lightly-colored background. If I change my mind later, I'll scrap it and revert to my usual plain white :)
Thanks once again...
I've read a study -- can't find it at the moment -- which showed that slightly off-white backgrounds and not-quite-pure black type allows the fastest reading speeds.
This scheme also has the (admittedlty small) advantage of displaying more easily on WebTV.
Not looking for readers 'tedster'. Most of our sites are serious literature ones. We created UKHotMovies.com for purely commercial reasons to subsidise our literature sites.
We expect the people who visit this site to be semi-literate Hollywood movie watchers, so we will give more emphasis to the graphics than words :)
Let's just hope they are able to key their credit card details in correctly ;)
I think a big part of the reason I like the blue fade background on this site (as opposed to white) is the way it lines up with the header navigation graphic.
On the white background the navigation/header is sorta floating in thin air... the blue fade background lines up just perfectly to give the header graphic an 'anchor.' Makes the page look more solid.