Choosing the Right Colors for Your Website

Designing a website that works well and appeals to your audience can be a difficult task if you don’t know where to begin. There are so many schools of thought about what the right color is for a particular type of website. Colors evoke emotions, and you want to be careful about which emotions you evoke. The look and feel of your site is almost as important as the content you publish.

Colors Evoke Emotions

When choosing colors you have to let go of what you think you like, and stick with conventional wisdom. Many people who are new to web design want to pick their own favorite colors, and while sometimes it may be a good choice, more often than not it’s just wrong for the audience. Therefore you need to go through some thought before choosing the color scheme for your new website.

Choose Contrasting Colors

The first and most important rule of thumb is to choose contrasting colors for the background and text. Typically it is better if the text is darker than the background. Even online, black text on a light background is the most preferable for online reading, just like it is for offline reading. If you choose to go the opposite route, double check for issues of readability because for many people, reading light colored text on a dark background hurts their eyes.

Use Natural Colors

Lime green and bright glowing orange aren’t really natural colors and can look quite harsh on a computer monitor. You can use toned down versions of these colors as contrasting colors if you’re careful about how you arrange them. But psychedelic colors are best left to posters, and not used online due to the eye strain they can cause. You’ve probably clicked away from a website due to the immediate pain brought to your eyes due to harsh color combinations.

Use No More than 3 or 4 Colors

A good example of a nice color palette can be found on paint samples. You’ll see that they’ll go from light to dark of the same color. Going with the same idea that you’d use to paint your house or your office, choosing a color palette of no more than 3 or 4 colors will work well for your purposes. These complementary colors, along with judicial use of white space, will make your website look professional and well thought out.

Remember Issues with Disabilities

One of the things often forgotten is that people with disabilities, including vision issues, also use the web. You’ll need to know who your audience is to know if this plays a factor, but having an accessible website should be as important to you as having an accessible store front. Your website is your store front in many cases, you don’t want to exclude people due to lack of attention to this detail. You can learn more about web standards for people with disabilities by reading the about it here at the w3schools.com website.

Your Audience Comes First

Like with most things marketing, it’s all about them. Your website isn’t about you at all. It’s about how you can best represent your products and or services to your customer in a way that pleases them. Men, women, elderly, and even different nations and cultures view color differently. Women don’t necessarily like pink, for example, so be sure to study your audience so that you can get an idea of their preferences.

Understand the Emotional Meaning

behind Color

For many individuals, a particular color will bring to mind emotional connotations that cannot be controlled. For instance red, in most cases can bring to mind feelings of high energy or anger depending on the audience. It’s important to pay attention to how your audience reacts to color and how the color of your website might bring to mind certain emotions. The shade of the color can matter a lot too, so choose wisely.

  • Red – High energy, passion, anger
  • Blue – Trust, sadness, loyalty
  • Green – Nature, wealth, health
  • Yellow – Joy, happiness

Once you start mixing these colors to create other colors, you’ll get entirely new and different emotions.

Online Tools You Can Use

You can create exciting palettes by using an online palette with this Color Scheme Designer. Once you pick the colors with the software, you can see a preview of what your website might look like. You can also download the RGB colors to use, in order to get the most accurate colors possible for your website.

Another really great tool to try is the Color Palette Generator. You can copy the URL of any image to get a color palette generated from the image. This is very useful if you already have a logo, and other marketing collateral and you want to match it to the business image you already have. While this system generates five colors per image remember to not use all five, try to stick to three and no more than 4 colors.

Choosing the colors for your websites is just one of many decisions you’ll need to make for your business. But it’s an important decision to make, so give it some thought while considering the meaning behind the colors, as well as how the colors affect your customer’s choices and vision. You only have a few seconds to get any new visitor to stay and read.

Jennifer Spurgeon

Jennifer Spurgeon is your guide to creating a well-branded, feature-rich website on a budget. Take the easy website builder for a free trial and have your site up and running in minutes.

Comments

  1. Harlan West1 says:

    Good information, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. I really liked what you said about your audience comes first.

  2. well . . my favorite color is Blue and I like to keep that blue Template on my site 😀

  3. Yes. Colors do make the differences: some colors drive traffic/clients to your business…some do not. This totally depends on the kind of traffic / clients you want to attract. Thank you Jennifer.

  4. I agree with you totally. Website colors always give an impression of what content to expect. Also it is important to make the text colors as friendly as possible to avoid straining while reading the texts on the website.

  5. One of the best articles I have ever read, and everything I feel, but expressed much better than I can. And, since less is more, I’ll let that statement and the article speak fir itself..

  6. Sandra Crowe says:

    I agree with your point that your audience comes first you should consider the vision of your audience not because that it’s your favorite color means that you should use it for your website but consider the audience and ask yourself these questions; Is it attractive enough to invite all audiences? Will he/she find my site pleasing to the eyes? Is he/she able to read the content of my site by these color combinations?

  7. Hi Jennifer

    Good article all in all (well I woudn’t be commenting if it wasn’t). Only thing that concerns me is the use of Masking on a domain name. I know it might seem harmless, but to me its dishonest. Having a neat landing page on your own domain is ok I think.