How To Create a Responsive Background Image Using CSS

  • July 17, 2020
  • Designing



How To Create a Responsive Background Image Using CSS

  • July 17, 2020
  • Designing



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There is a major agreement among most developers and business owners that static websites can’t support responsive images. This can make websites look bland, so is there is a viable solution to this? Yes! A CSS background image has provided an easy way for website developers to create responsive background images that are supported by all major web browsers that are being used today.

Does your website have a large background image? Are you planning on including one on to your website? Including a large, full background image on a webpage is a popular trend within website designs these days. Here are a few examples of websites that have included responsive background images in H1 in a classy manner.

How To Create a Responsive Background Image Using CSS

If you want to create a similar look and vibe for your business website or the upcoming web design project, you have come to the right place.

In this blog, we will give you an overview of the simple technique to create responsive full background images using CSS background-size property, without needing JavaScript.

Using Background Size Property To Stretch Background Image In CSS:

The background-size property in CSS has a cover value and this enables the browser to proportionally and automatically scale your background image’s height and width. The cover value helps scale the image so that it perfectly fits the width and height of the viewpoint or the screen size.

To improve the loading speed on small screens like a mobile device, development professionals use media queries. It enables you to replace the existing image with a scaled-down version of your background image, which enhances your page load speed. However, this is an optional practice.

When you design a webpage, you usually take dimensions that cover a widescreen computer monitor or laptop screen but it means your file size is going to go up around 1.7 MB. This is not a good practice for your load time and it can lead to an exceptionally bad experience for your mobile visitors. Besides, the image dimensions will also be excessive for small-screen devices. Hence, it is recommended to use a media query.

How To Make A Background Image Responsive In CSS?


You can easily set up your background cover using CSS and this is all you will be needing for your markup language or HTML.

<!doctype html>



Insert your content here



The approach we are taking here is that we assign the body element to the background image because it ensures that the image always covers the complete screen or the viewport of the browser. Moreover, you can also use this approach for any block-level element like a form or a div. Given that the width and height of the block-level container you are using are fluid, you can be sure that your background image will scale to perfectly fit the container.


There are a few styling rules that you can implement for your background image in HTML within the body element and they all will represent your image in a different way. Here is how different style rules will make your background image appear different.

body {

/* Insert the location of your image */

background-image: url (pictures/background-image.jpg);

/* This ensures your background image is center-positioned vertically and horizontally */

background-position: center center;

/* This ensures your background image doesn’t tile */

background-repeat: no-repeat;

/*This fixes your background image within the viewport and ensures it doesn’t move when image is smaller than the content’s height */

background-attachment: fixed;

/* This makes your background image responsive and rescale according to the viewport or container size */

background-size: cover;

/* Choose your background color that appears while the image is still uploading */

background-color: #D3D3D3; }


The most important background-size property and value pair is background-size: cover. That’s what you should be focusing on. This CSS property and value pair get the browser to scale your background image proportionally. The idea is to scale the width and height of the image so that it’s equal to or greater than the dimensions of the element, in this case, the body element.


When you are using this property and value pair you have to be careful about one aspect. When your background image is smaller than the dimensions of the body element, the browser will automatically scale up your image to fit the screen size. This often happens with high-resolution computer screens and when you have a lot of content on your webpage. However, when your background scales up from its initial dimensions, the quality of the image decreases due to pixilation.

Hence, make sure you keep this in mind when you choose the image you are going to using this property and value pair on.

Moving on, to ensure your background image is centrally positioned in the viewport, we use the centered property feature.

“background-position: center center”

You also need to consider the situation where your image’s height is greater than your viewport’s visible height. A scroll bar appears when this situation occurs. However, you want to make sure that your background image stays in its place as your user scrolls down. Otherwise, you will either have no more image at the bottom of your background image will move when the user scrolls down and this can be very distracting. Hence, the solution to avoid this situation is to set your background-attachment property to a fixed option.

“background-attachment: fixed;”

To get a better idea about how each feature mentioned with the body element affects the look and feel of your background image, you can copy the styling rule and experiment with positional property values and see how it changes the behavior of your background image and page scrolling.

Trying Shorthand CSS Notation:

The above-mentioned style rule was written in full notation, including the background properties, to helps you better understand how CSS works. However, if you like you can also use the shorthand CSS notation as its equivalent.

body {background-image.jpg) center center cover no-repeat fixed:}

You can use this shorthand notation to get your CSS center background image responsive. All you need to do is change the URL to show the location where you have your background image downloaded, and you are good to go.

Use Media Query For Small Screens:

As we mentioned above, using a background-size property cover can be effectively used to make images smaller in CSS by making it responsive to the size of the screen. However, you will also see some professionals using tools like Photoshop to make images proportional and resize the actual background image for small screens. The resizing also helps get the image dimensions down to 768x505px and to further optimize your image for loading you can also run it through some file compressor tool to cut down a few extra bytes. These two practices can help you reduce the size of the file from 1741KB to 114KB. This shows a reduction of 93% in the file size. This can positively affect your page loading speed and can improve mobile visitors’ user experience.

But, 114KB may still be too large for just an aesthetic page component. However, it is the optimal size for your file if it has the potential to make a significant improvement in the user experience because in some cases it might be a big trade-off for mobile web performance.

Here is the media query for small screens:

@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {

body {

/*Now that the size of this background image is reduced by 93% it will help improve the page loading speed on internet connections of mobile devices. */

background-image: url(pictures/background-image-mobile-screen.jpg); } }

In our media query, we set the maximum width for our CSS background image cover as 767px for small screens. It means that this media query will function as long as the viewport of the browser is greater than 767px and the system will serve the original background image viewports above the set limit.

However, one drawback of using the media query is that in case your user resizes their browser window from a bigger viewport to a small viewport or vice versa, the user will see a flicker just for a movement as the background image uploads from smaller to bigger or to the other way around.

Besides, in case your user is using a mobile device that can render higher pixels like iPhone 5, its retina display can render 1136x640px, which means the small background image will appear pixelated.

However, when you are working with experienced website developers and designers, you can find customized solutions for every glitch, bug, and problem. If you have any issue with your background cover in CSS responsive, you can reach out to our experts to guide you at any point.

Wrapping up:

When you are trying to create a responsive background image using CSS, it is important to remember the cautionary techniques. When you using large files make sure you consider the effect they will have on your page loading speed and user experience when they are visiting your website without the fastest or most reliable internet connection. With an increasing number of people using their mobile devices to browse the internet, you also have to be mindful of UX over small screens. Hence, it is a good idea to set a default background color for your website that enables the users to continue reading your website content as the background image takes its time to load. Besides, it’s always recommended to consult