The colors you choose for your site reflect on your brand’s overall message and personality. Different colors evoke different emotions in the user, so figuring out what shades to use is important. Coming up with color palette ideas isn’t easy. Not only is color choice important, but the colors you choose must complement one another and create a visually pleasing effect.
Around 42 percent of shoppers immediately form an opinion on a website based on the overall design, including the colors. Color impacts mood and even the decision to buy a product. The topic is important enough that researchers study the impact of different colors on different genders. If you’re convinced about how important your color scheme is, consider the following 12 color palette ideas when choosing your design.
1. Go With Beautiful Blues
Blue is a fairly safe color choice for web design, as it is a reliable and trustworthy color. The impact blue has on the average person is likely why so many financial institutions use the color blue in their designs. Experts believe blue is the safest color scheme for businesses to use. People love blue overwhelmingly, at 57 percent of men and 35 percent of women. Think about some of the big online players who use blue, such as Facebook and Twitter. Choose blue if you need to instill trust in your brand or appeal to the widest base for both sexes.
2. Gain Inspiration From Palette Generators
You may already have a color scheme for your company, but you aren’t quite sure what colors pair well with your logo. One easy way to find color palette ideas is to plug in the primary color of your logo to an online palette wizard and see what choices come up. Most wizards allow you to move around choices and swap in different shades until you find the palette you love.
Colors on the Web offers the option to plug in a color code and get ideas about what colors go best with that specific shade. Paletton is a well-known color palette ideas generator. Paletton is a bit more advanced, as you can choose a single color, multiple colors, adjacent colors, complementary colors and even a tetrad (four colors).
3. Brush Up on Color Theory
You could take an entire class on color theory — we won’t go through all of it right now. However, knowing a few of the basics can help you choose colors for your website.
First, know that there are three types of colors:
- Primary colors: The ones you get without mixing, which are red, yellow and blue.
- Secondary colors: What you get when you mix two primary colors, such as green, orange and purple.
- Tertiary colors: The combination of primary and secondary colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel, like red-violet.
On that note, all of these colors create the color wheel, with secondary colors between the primaries that make them. The same goes for tertiary colors, which sit next to their primary and secondary ingredients.
You can use the color wheel to help you choose colors, as the wheel indicates what does and doesn’t go together. Colors directly across from one another are complimentary. Usually, that’s one warm and one cool color — yellow and violet are an example.
Colors directly next to one another work well together. For instance, you could choose a blue-green, blue and blue-violet palette. Evenly spaced palettes of three or four colors bring together a handful of different shades. Perhaps a palette of red-violet, yellow-orange and blue-green could do the trick?
The possibilities are truly endless with the color wheel. Start spinning and see if you find a palette you like.
4. Know What Colors to Avoid
Some colors should only be used in moderation, if at all. For example, colors used to show caution, such as the orange used in construction cones or the yellow used at a stoplight, may signal to the user’s brain to proceed with caution. In one study, women said they didn’t like the color orange, and 26 percent of them felt the color was “cheap.”
5. Find Green Color Palette Ideas
Green is the easiest color for people to process. It signals growth and is used for natural products or sometimes money matters. Most people feel fairly neutral about the color green. It isn’t widely hated, but it isn’t universally loved either. If you need to put the focus more on your content than your design, you can implement a green color scheme to keep the focus on the content.
6. Understand Your Brand’s Personality
Your color palette needs to reflect your brand’s overall personality and message. Remember, every color evokes some type of emotion in the viewer. If you run an eCommerce website that offers fun and young clothing, then you’re not going to use a navy blue color scheme that is serious and old looking. Instead, you’ll go for brighter colors that elicit excitement in the viewer.
7. Rely on Pre-Existing Brand Elements
On that note, your website should coordinate with your logo, as well. Perhaps you’ve already crafted this branding element. If so, you can pluck colors directly from the logo you’ve designed. You can also choose coordinating colors to bring the logo to life.
Either way, your logo should fit right into your website, and both elements should flaunt the same color palette. This step is vital to your overall branding, as color boosts brand recognition by a whopping 80 percent. Make sure everything coordinates to help customers connect you to your branding, website include.
8. Consider Contrast
The way the colors in your palette contrast with one another is important. Your palette needs not only colors that mesh well together, but you need a variety of shades for the different elements on your page. For example, if your background is dark, you need a lighter color for your text. If your background is light, you need a very dark color for your text. The result should be text that isn’t harsh on the eyes. If you’re not sure, do some testing and get feedback on the contrast and how easy your page is to read.
9. Don’t Fall Into the Favorites Trap
What’s your favorite color? You might want to choose your website palette based on what you like. However, this can be a mistake, depending on the product or service you have to offer.
For instance, perhaps your favorite color is blue. We’ve already touched on the fact that blue makes a great website color. However, it’s also a hue with strong associations to men — it tends to be their favorite color, too. Therefore, it would be confusing to brand a women-centric website in blue. You might be able to make it work with the right accents. However, you should be mindful of the association that specific colors have to particular genders, genres and more.
In some cases, that may mean ditching your favorite color for something more appropriate.
10. Use the Isolation Effect
Choose one color in your palette that highlights only the most important information. Saving a color choice for only specific elements draws the user’s eye because it isn’t used often and is something different. The isolation effect shows that the human brain processes anything a bit different and gives it importance. If you want to highlight a call to action button, then you would make that button a color that isn’t used elsewhere on the page but still complements the overall palette.
11. Study Award Winners
Still not sure about what color palette you should use? Take the time to study award-winning sites. Some awards focus on specific elements, such as the color scheme. For example, you can study 50 award-winning websites and their color schemes to see what works and what doesn’t. Awwwards.com offers several awards for various design elements, and they announce new winners on a regular basis.
Another way to figure out how colors work together is to study some of your favorite sites. Upon landing on a site, most of our response to that site is based on the visual aspects. Which sites do you love visiting? Take the time to study how they integrate different colors into their design. What is their overall color scheme, and what can you learn from it? Gain color palette ideas from other sites, then put your own creative twist on a palette that belongs to you alone.
12. Keep It Simple
With all of these tips, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. You may end up choosing multiple colors for your website, which would probably create a busy-looking final product.
If you keep your palette simple, it’s much easier to make it look uniform and polished. Those who navigate to your site will prefer this styling, too. They won’t have to sift through a rainbow of colors to figure out what they need to know. Instead, they’ll land on an aesthetically pleasing page that’s clean and easy to understand.
Choose a Color Palette
The colors you choose have an impact on your site visitors and can mean the difference between a good conversion rate and a lousy one. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to tweak your colors and try something new. Conduct A/B testing to see which colors get the best response from your site visitors.
You don’t have to be a top artist to choose a color scheme that works. You do, however, have to pay attention to detail and be willing to experiment with different combinations.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.
Color impacts mood and even the decision to buy a product.