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How do I change the background color or use a picture as a background?

White is the most common background color for major web sites, but that doesn't mean you can't use something else.

In most programs, you'll find a "Page Properties" or similar menu item that will allow you to change the background to something other than the default white. For example, in Dreamweaver, look for the "Page Properties" section under the "Modify" menu. In GoLive, click on the arrow next to the work "Head" near the top of your document window. At this point, you can choose a solid color or a graphic element. Usually, the graphic element forms a repeating pattern since it's usually just a small element.

If you choose to use a graphic, keep it simple so it doesn't detract from the content of the site. For fastest load times, choose simple colors and save the graphic as a GIF file. Try to keep your image under 150 pixels square so it loads quickly.

If the background is merely providing "pilar bars" on either side of a centered page (like on this site), you don't have to worry about interfering with text elements. However, if you plan to use the background element behind the actual body content portion of your page, make sure it doesn't obscure the text on the page. Allow plenty of contrast between the graphic and the text (i.e. a very dark background and very light colored text). You may wish to blur the background element slightly when you create it in your graphics software so hard edges won't make the text difficult to read.

When you choose to use a graphic element as a background, also choose a solid color that closely matches the main color of the graphic. This way, you won't have a white background while a visitor's slow Internet connection loads the graphic file. For example, we have a background color that matches the base color that appears behind the repeating "GF" logo. This way, only the logo appears to be missing if the background takes a bit of extra time to load or the browser fails to load it.

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