At various points in the web’s history, it’s been seen as fashionable to see just how much of a web design you can create with just HTML and CSS — including images in the design only where absolutely needed, such as icons. It’s a great exercise for honing your skills: how far can I go with just code? But in the real world, some of the most gorgeous sites are created with multiple layers of textures, requiring the inclusion of many images by necessity.

Here are 30 web designs that make heavy use of textures, whether they’re trendy noise textures, now old-fashioned grunge textures or something else entirely. One thing they all have in common? They look better than half of those fast-loading but image-free designs.

The Seen

Carlos

Solid Giant

Vector Stories

Cognition

All Star Lanes

Six11Ink

Carbonica

Jeroen Homan

SimpleBits

Hugs for Monsters

AdFlavor

The Brown Corporation

Bern Unlimited

Edgepoint Church

Schepps Design

Sundance Institute

Infinitum

e-One

I Am Todd

Salt of the Earth

Jeff Sarmiento

David Hellmann

Jambalaya

Reklama Audio

MapBox

Toby Powell

MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale

Rockatee Design

It’s worth noting that with the advent of CSS3, tools such as Patternify have started springing up that make it possible to include PNG patterns in your CSS code as Base 64 text. It’s impractical to try and cover the full range of textures and implementations this way, but it’s perhaps the coolest, most performance-conscious way of handling images in CSS since sprites.

What are some of your own favorite textured web designs? Let us know about them in the comments!

Want to submit some cool web designs? Enter a web design contest online.