How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Website

colorful and fun color scheme
Marketing and psychological research that studies how certain colors and color schemes appeal to consumers in different ways have now become fairly mainstream for many different types of businesses. When it comes to the web, these kinds of considerations are even more important for businesses who want to get the most out of their investment. Most web designers and graphic designers are aware of the particular methods for choosing a color scheme and they know what colors work well together. However, for the average person looking to create their own website, choosing colors can sometimes be daunting.

The idea of creating moods surrounding your particular product or service may seem a little far-fetched to some, but it has been proving to be very effective. Moods are created by the colors or groups of colors used in the overall design scheme. In addition, choosing colors that work well together is also important to the overall attractiveness of the site. With that being said, there is no reason to feel apprehensive about the process of choosing colors for your website. There are, however, a few simple things to keep in mind.

No matter what kind of website that you are creating, the overall goal should be the same: to generate a great deal of traffic while also accruing a number of repeat visitors. Having a site that offers a great deal of valuable content is only the beginning. The design of your site can have a tremendous impact on your readers and followers, and choosing the right color scheme is key to an effective design. In order to gain a better sense of direction, there are a few things that you should ask yourself before starting to design your website and pick a color scheme.

Purpose

First, consider the purpose of creating the website in the first place. What is it that you hope to accomplish with the site? Consider whether the site is an e-commerce site or an information portal, such as a blog or e-zine. Will this be a corporate site for your company, offering a description and information to consumers, or is the site for a non-profit organization? These are things that you probably already know, but they still play a role in the overall design of the site as well as the colors that should be chosen. The purpose of the site helps determine what kind of mood you want to set for site visitors.

Image

Think about the kind of image that you want to portray to visitors, and the kind of ideas about your company, organization, or product that you want them to leave the site with. When it comes to business, image may not be everything, but it matters a great deal. Do you want to convey to your potential customers that your product or information will provide them with financial security, wealth, or greater peace of mind? Do you want your website to portray how professional your business or corporation is and that you are loyal to your customers? Or is your blog, e-zine, or e-commerce site centered more around the holidays and seasonal events? Each aspect of your business has an effect on the mood created by your website for your readers and clientele.

Colorful and fun color scheme

simple corporate color scheme

Simple corporate color scheme

Eco-friendly color scheme

Color Meanings

Now that you have established what the purpose of your website is and the type of image that you want to convey, it is time to get a better understanding of how colors influence your visitors. Each color tends to generate certain kinds of moods and have been deemed to have a considerable impact on business, especially business conducted over the internet. Of course, these color meanings can also be helpful when creating brochures, flyers, and even business cards or promotional gear. The same overall color scheme that is used on your website should also be incorporated into your company logo.

Yellow is a color that is rarely used in design, but it can be added to a number of other colors to help boost the overall effect. Yellow speaks of joy and happiness and can leave viewers with an overall feeling of warmth and satisfaction. Brown is another color that seldom stands alone, but is can add credibility to your professional or personal website. Brown is a color used to emit feelings of comfort and stability. Red is frequently incorporated into many websites and marketing material and can add a sense of energy and enthusiasm to any business. Other shades of red can also be used to create a feeling of passion or power.

Of course, white is included in almost every website, but it is still a very important color to consider that can have a profound effect on customers. White speaks of faith, purity, youth, and peace. White can also sometimes offset the impact of bolder, brighter colors. Blue is another color that is frequently used in design, but not quite as frequently as the many shades of red. Blue symbolizes freedom, tranquility, and coolness. It also is a reminder to many of vacations, the beach, or water. Black also speaks of power, but is can symbolize elegance and mystery as well. Black is another color that is usually found in nearly every website as well, and can offset some of the calmer effects of a white background.

If you look closely, you may notice that green is commonly found in the color scheme of many business and money-making websites. Naturally, this make a lot of sense, since green is the color that speaks of money, wealth, and prosperity. Pink is not used a whole lot in design, except for when it comes to businesses, websites, and products that are intended specifically for women. This is because pink usually symbolizes femininity and romance. Purple is a very powerful color, and it can usually be found in small amounts in many websites, logos, and other products of design. Purple implies wisdom and sophistication, and can also be used to symbolize knowledge and loyalty. Additionally, purple works well as a celebratory color. Gray is a common element of many sites that are geared towards the senior population, but it can also be a powerful element of a professional company website or logo. Grey reminds of reliability and maturity, and helps to establish a sense of trust among customers.

The Grand Scheme of Things

Once you have a basic understanding of the kinds of emotions conveyed by certain colors, it is time to decide on an overall color scheme. Most websites utilize three to four colors. Websites have a background color, a text color, a link color, and a “hover” color. However, in some cases, the link color and the hover color are the same. This is perfectly acceptable and has more to do with preference and aesthetics than anything else. You can also choose a lighter shade of the same color to use as either the link color or the hover color. For websites that have sidebars, designers can opt to use a different background color for the sidebars, but in most cases, the background color selected should remain consistent with the overall site design.

The term color scheme refers to the group of three or four colors that are chosen for the website. The color scheme is also sometimes referred to as a theme, but in some cases, a theme can refer to something else entirely. When choosing a color scheme, there are a few things that should be kept in mind. One of the first rules of thumb with regards to web design is that lighter backgrounds with darker text are much easier on the eyes than darker backgrounds with a lighter text. There are always exceptions to this rule, and some darker backgrounds are now becoming more popular, but it is important to keep this in mind when choosing a background color.

Second, if you are using inline text ads or want to draw attention to hypertext links on the page, brighter link colors always work better. This is also true when drawing attention to certain key phrases on the page. Also, it is important to remember that there are often many different kinds of people that may be reading information on any given web page. People with vision problems are more prone to eye fatigue, and having a site that is both easy on the eyes and easy to read is essential. Choosing colors from the natural color palette instead of less traditional variations like hot pink or lime green can greatly reduce eye fatigue and allow readers to absorb all of the information that you have to offer.

You should now have a decent understanding of the colors that you want to use for the design of your website. You can choose colors that are closely related to emphasize one particular image that you would like to convey or you can use opposite colors that complement each other to bring together two or three different moods or concepts. The choice is ultimately yours, but if you have never designed a website before, it is always a good idea to play around with several different color schemes first. For beginners, it can sometimes be tempting to want to use a different color scheme for other pages of the website, it is important to stick to the same color scheme throughout the entire site. This not only also reduces eye fatigue, but can also aid in branding by further promoting your overall image.

Online Color Tools Coming to the Rescue

After all this theory it’s time to get down to business and choose the right color scheme for your website that will present your brand to the masses the right way.

There are a lot of online tools that can help you out in finding the perfect colors or at least a starting point for your web designer so he can understand the look and feel you are after.

The best practice is to find some good looking websites of your competition (if there are any good ones in your opinion) or some established brands you come across daily to see how they have done it and start creating your own color scheme by using the online color tools like Adobe Kuler or Colour Lovers that have a thousand of color schemes uploaded by their users on daily basis. Those are growing galleries where you can find search find the right ones for your business or blog.

Adobe Kuler

Colour Lovers

This can be a good starting point for creating a memorable website you’re trying to create. Give these online tools a try by using the color wheels or predefined color schemes.

Tags: color meaning, color scheme, web design, website color scheme

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3 Responses to “How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Website”


  1. Edwin Says:

    Insightful article. It might be difficult to explain this to a potential client, whom does not know anything about web design.
    Clients often have no sense of style, but want to be designers. Hopefully tools like Adobe Kuler can help in the decision process.


  2. Munsell Says:

    True, clients are rarely proficient in choosing ANYTHING!, however, having an established color matching system to work with can be a great boon. Cheers


  3. Darek Says:

    I found that application such as Adbe Kuler can be used as guide, but never should be used to made decisions. What I want to say is, you need to depend on your taste to create perfect layout.

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