Let’s talk about colors.
Here’s something very basic and very handy to know. The article was written for web designers or businesses in mind but whether you’re designing your home or maybe deciding what color of shoes goes with your outfit, knowing the basics of the color theory would definitely come in very handy.
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Color is supremely important in any kind of design and this is no less true in web design. For many years, web sites either had white backgrounds or color backgrounds, however current web site design trends dictate that creating interesting, cohesive color palettes is becoming increasingly essential to producing successful website designs.
Visitors today expect to see the precise, calculated sophisticated color use so common in print design. This means that web designers must ensure that they understand how to create these sophisticated palettes.
How people appreciate and react to color is individual to each person. A color which evokes one reaction in a person can cause another very different reaction in a different person, this can be due to personal preferences as to color but it can also be due to cultural factors. The study of color theory is a science, these days, and people have built successful careers on studying how color affects individuals and groups.
Color can help set the mood; it can draw viewers’ attention and make a personal statement as to what someone owns. Colors can induce strong feelings, such as excitement or anger, and color can also induce calm or happiness, for example, many people use cool pale green colors in bedrooms because it is believed that pale greens induce relaxation.
When designing a web site, color theory and color itself are crucial elements in the finished design. Color also helps to create the ideal ambiance for a product or for a company web site. It can also provide a friendly, elegant or young theme for a website.
Color theory is the science and understanding of color and its effects. However, using color theory in web design means arranging the interaction between colors so as to draw users towards a product or company. Website designers can do this by correctly using the color schemes, contrast and vibrancy features on a website.
Color theory developed from the color wheel, a long used tool enabling one to merge colors in order to attain color harmony. The color wheel enables people to combine two or more colors to create color harmonies or color chords to create an impact on viewers, which is why color theory is so important in website design.
Color theory is all about how color works, successful website designers understand color theory well.
Think before choosing a color scheme for a web site
The color scheme of any given website creates an overall perception in the viewer’s mind. The color of the website is the first thing that viewers see, and will play a major role in their decision as to whether they wish to proceed further to see or buy the product or service that the website is offering. People have their own preconceived ideas about colors.
For example, some people see green as the color of freedom others may see some colors as aggressive. The color of the website is how viewers perceive the company or product for which the page is being designed. A color scheme can create loyalty to a particular brand. Many companies now use color theory for web design as a leading marketing strategy, such as IBM’s blue logo promoting calm and financial peace of mind in the viewer.
Understanding color and its effects on viewers is paramount to successfully applying it in website design. Color theory is rather a complex science which examines how different colors, shades and hues interact together, but some basic advice can be the difference between successful website design and failure.
Designers use color schemes in order to appeal to viewers and to create a style for the website. Colors that are pleasing to the eye when used together attract viewers more than discordant colors do, and basic color schemes generally use two colors that go together well.
An analogous palette uses the colors which are close to one another on the color wheel and such palettes effectively communicate consistency and uniformity within any design. There is not a huge difference in hue, which makes them relatively easy to work with when designing a website or anything else.
Any contrast is made chiefly through shade variations, which limits distraction from the website’s content. Three color analogous palettes can by using tints and shades create wide and gradual variation.
A complementary palette uses colors which are opposite one another on the color wheel and thus offer a feeling of balance. As with analogous palettes, a designer can expand complementary schemes by adding tints and shades, which is also useful in avoiding viewer eyestrain caused by the harsh contrast due to two opposing colors being placed directly adjacent to one another.
Triadic palettes are composed from three main colors which are equally spaced on the color wheel, making for a diverse palette. The triadic palette requires rather more thought and experiment because it involves many opposing hues.
Any difficult contrasting colors in the triadic palette can be softened by using tints and shades of the same color, making it look as though there are more colors than actually appear. Designers can add neutral tones in order to provide a foil for the brighter colors.
Monochromatic color schemes are composed of one basic color but using the different tints and shades of that color. Monochromatic color scheme are easy to do well and are very effective, calming and authoritative.
The meaning of colors
Professional website designers must understand the meaning of color and how color affects design. Designers, who lack such an understanding, could make the kind of color combinations which are the hallmark of an amateur. Designers need to research and study color and discover how to use color to give their designs life.
Red, being the color of fire and blood, has associations with energy, danger, war, power, strength, determination, desire, passion and love. The color red is emotionally intense.
It accelerates both the metabolism and respiration rate as well as increasing the blood pressure. It is also a very visible primary color used to convey danger or urgency, which is the reason that warning traffic signs have red rims, and a red traffic signal means stop and fire engines and equipment are red. In heraldry, red means courage, which is probably why many countries use it in their national flag.
Red makes text and images come to the fore. Website designers use red as an accent color in order to stimulate website viewers to make swift decisions, such as for BUY NOW or CLICK HERE buttons.
In the advertising world, the color red is used to evoke erotic sensations. Red is associated with energy, so using it to promote energy drinks, games, sports items cars and physical activity is a good idea.
Green is, of course, nature’s color, symbolizing growth, natural harmony, freshness and fertility. Green also emotionally corresponds to safety, green traffic signals for example, darker green shades may equate to money in some countries.
Green is a very restful color, which is thought to have a healing power. It suggests stability and endurance. Sometimes green indicates a lack of experience, for example, someone who is as green as grass is a person new to an activity or experience. In heraldic tradition green shows growth and hope. Green also means safety; a green traffic signal means that it is (hopefully) safe to continue across a road junction.
Web designers can use green in order to indicate safety, when advertising medical products or drugs, it relates directly to nature and so is ideal when promoting ecological, organic or green products. Dull dark green can indicate money and the financial world.
The sea and sky are blue, and people associate blue with depth and stability. Blue is symbolic of trust, fidelity, loyalty, confidence, wisdom, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven. Blue is thought to benefit mind and body; it slows the metabolism and calms the mind, and has associations with tranquility and calm. In the heraldic tradition blue stands for piety, sincerity and loyalty to the crown.
Blue is the ideal color to promote products and services appertaining to cleanliness, (for example cleaning products, water purification equipment or filters) the air and the sky (such as airlines or air conditioning) water and sea (for example sea cruises, or mineral water). Whereas warm colors such as red, orange and yellow link to the emotions, blue links to the mind, consciousness and the intellect.
Blue suggests precision and intelligence when used to promote high technology products. According to research studies blue is a masculine color and highly acceptable to boys and men. Dark Blue links to depth, expertise and stability, so it is no surprise that American businesses use it so often.
Never use blue to promote foodstuffs or cooking, blue has an appetite suppressing ability, just think about the last time you ate blue food. Using blue together with warm colors such as yellow or red creates vibrant design with a high impact, blue, yellow and red together form superman’s uniform.
The sun is yellow, as a color yellow indicates happiness, intellect and energy. Yellow has a warming effect, it makes people cheerful, and it stimulates mental activity and muscle energy. Yellow has associations with food. Bright yellow attracts attention.
If overused yellow can be disturbing, some studies have shown that babies cry more in yellow rooms. Yellow used on black gives a warning. In the heraldic tradition, yellow is an indication of honor and loyalty. Yellow has only relatively recently been connected with cowardly behavior.
Designers can use yellow to give web sites a pleasant cheerful feeling. Use yellow to promote children’s products and leisure related items. Yellow is highly effective at attracting attention and designers can use it to highlight the very important elements of their designs.
Men generally perceive yellow a light hearted, childish color, so designers should not use it to sell serious, luxury, prestigious men’s products. Yellow is a spontaneous color, spontaneity suggests instability, which is why it is unwise to use it for goods or services for which stability and safety are prerequisites.
Pale yellows need a dark color to highlight them as white tends to blend with pale yellow shades. Some shades of yellow do not look very appealing because they can look drab.
Orange is a mixture of red energy and cheerful, happy yellow. Orange means sunshine, joy and tropical countries and it represents happiness, creativity, attraction success, encouragement, determination, enthusiasm and stimulation.
Humans perceive orange as a very hot color. However, orange is not as aggressive a color as red is. Some believe that orange increases the brain’s oxygen supply, producing an invigorating effect and stimulating mental activity.
It is very acceptable to young people. Orange is a citrus color and so has associations with healthy food and stimulates the appetite, it is also the color of the fall and harvest. Orange in the heraldic tradition means strength and endurance.
Orange is highly visible; use it to draw attention and highlight the important design elements and to promote foodstuffs and toys.
The color purple is a mixture of blue’s stability and red’s energy. Purple was the color of emperors and it symbolizes power, nobility, luxury and ambition and conveys feelings of wealth and extravagance. Purple has associations with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery and magic.
According to research studies nearly 75% of pre-teen children state their favorite color as purple, Purple is quite a rare color in nature and thus some people consider it rather artificial.
Light purple or lavender shades are good to use in feminine designs, Bright purple shades are good for promoting children’s products.
White has associations with light, innocence purity and virginity and is the color of perfection. White is a metaphor for safety, purity and cleanliness. White has a positive connection and can represent a successful beginning. White on a heraldic coat of arms means faith and purity.
Advertisers use white to signify coolness and cleanliness, because white is the color of snow. Designers can use white to suggest simplicity when promoting high technology products. Angels are generally depicted wearing white and so it is very appropriate to use white for charitable web sites or organizations.
White is the color of hospitals, doctors and sterility so using white in a web site suggests safety when promoting medical services or products. White also suggests low fat food, diet products and services and dairy products.
Black has association with power, elegance, formality, death, evil and mystery. Black also has associations with fear and the occult and unknown. When used in language, for example blacklist, black humor, the Black Death, black hole, it has negative connotations. Black also denotes strength, authority and formality, elegance and prestige, for example black tie black Mercedes. Black in a heraldic coat of arms symbolizes grief.
Black gives a feeling of perspective and depth, however, a black background makes text hard to read. A black suit or dress makes people look slimmer. Those designing for a gallery of images, art or photography, should use a black or gray background to make the images stand out. Black provides a good contrast when used with bright colors. Black combined with the other very powerful colors red or orange makes for a very aggressive color scheme.
Successful color palettes are the ones that develop the brand’s identity and which clearly carry the correct message to your intended audience. The best way to build up your own color knowledge and palette is take these tips as a starting point and then to test, edit and experiment with your own designs until you find what work best for you and your client or business.