Like beauty, color is subjective. What arouses a reaction in you may evoke a very different effect on someone else. At times, this is because of personal preference, and on occasion, a result of cultural background. Understanding how colors influence different people is a field some individuals build their careers on. Studying color theory is scientific, and there’s a lot to it.
When you decide on your website palette, it's important to take into account how the colors you choose represent you and your brand.
Color, an Overview
All of us have our favorite colors. We tend to gravitate toward them when it comes to our personal and professional choices. When it comes to your website, you have to understand the value of analyzing color schemes and how each color links to your product or service.
Effective color selection takes meticulous planning. When done right, it can have a positive impact on how your visitors translate what they see on your website beyond its layout and typography. But it can be tough to pick the right colors if you're unaware of how color selection works. This is why you need to have some basic understanding of color theory.
Standard Color Symbolism and Connotations
Warm colors include red, yellow, and orange. The first two are primary colors, the last falls in the middle. All three are true warm colors since they aren’t created by mixing warm and cool hues. Any combination of these three is also considered a warm color.
The fall season, sunsets and sunrises, and fire are great examples of warm tones. They are associated with passion, energy, and positivity.
Incorporate warm colors to your design to represent enthusiasm, interest, pleasure or vitality.
Cool colors include blue, green, and purple. They are normally more muted when compared to warm colors. Blue is the sole primary color in this grouping. This means the other two are created by mixing blue with a warm color. Shades of green adopt some features of yellow while shades of purple take on features of red.
Water, nature, and nighttime are great examples of cool colors. They are generally soothing and comforting yet a bit reserved.
Add cool colors to your design to show a feeling of tranquility, harmony, or professionalism.
Download our Winter color palettes
Neutral colors, like white, black, gray, brown, and cream, typically work as the design backdrop. They are often merged with more vibrant accent colors. However, they're flexible enough to be used on their own creating chic and elegant layouts.
Here’s a quick reference to the standard symbolism of warm, cool, and neutral colors:
- Red - Love, Adoration, Passion, Anger, Rage
- Orange - Vitality, Joy, Energy, Power
- Yellow - Delight, Hope, Satisfaction, Deceit
- Green - Nature, Success, Prosperity, New Beginnings
- Blue - Peace, Calm, Sorrow
- Purple - Luxury, Royalty, Abundance
- Black - Mystic, Class, Mystery, Evil
- Gray - Demure, Old-fashioned, Formal
- White - Cleanliness, Purity, Holiness, Virtue
- Brown - Outdoors, Chastity, Trust
Download our Fall color palettes
Basic Color Concept Terminology
Hue refers to the color of the object. When you say red, yellow, white, or blue, you’re referring to hue. It's basically the synonym of color.
Chroma indicates the purity of a color. A hue rich in Chroma doesn't have white, black or gray in it. Adding in any of the aforementioned colors reduces Chroma. It's almost like saturation, though it can be considered as the brightness of a color in contrast to white.
When designing, stay away from colors with high chrome similarities. Instead, choose colors with Chroma that are slightly similar or a few degrees off from each other.
Saturation relates to how a color seems to be under a certain lighting condition. Imagine saturation as strong versus weak or vivid versus pale. Colors with the same saturation levels result in a more cohesive-looking output.
Value is also referred to as lightness. It refers to the level of lightness or darkness of a color. Out of all the colors and color combinations, black has the lowest value while white has the highest.
When designing, use colors with distinct values, particularly those with high Chroma. Hues with high contrast values often result in eye-catching designs.
Tones are produced when gray is added to a color. They are often less vivid than pure colors. In most design choices, tones are easy to use — especially if you're aiming for an output with a vintage vibe.
A shade is produced when black is put into a color, turning it a lot deeper and darker. A shade is different from a tone or a tint.
In most cases, extreme dark shades are often used instead of plain black. They also mostly serve as a backdrop.
A tint is produced when white is added to a color, making it lighter. Extremely light tints are often called pastels. Any pure color mixed with white results in a tint.
Best Practices in Choosing a Color Scheme
The following guidelines can help you make the ideal color scheme selection for your website.
1. Make use of your brand colors.
The first task involved in selecting your site's palette is to study your brand colors. If your business already has signature colors, then they are the obvious choice to use. If you want to take a different route, make sure to go for the colors that best represent your product or service.
2. Take color symbolism into account.
Look at the emotions and perceptions linked to different hues. Check out the samples above. You must always keep in mind that the same colors can trigger different emotions in different people.
The best way to go about this is to consider your target market. Choose colors that will associate best with your audience.
3. Focus on your market.
If your target audience is predominantly women, take advantage of colors that appeal best to female users. The same principle goes for men. A study conducted by Kissmetrics shows that women’s top three colors are blue, green, and purple. Men’s top choices are blue, black, and green. It’s interesting to note that both genders have a positive reaction to blue. So, when it doubt, choose blue.
4. Review the industry you're part of.
Think about the industry and which colors are mostly associated with your field. Environmental brands are a great example of this. Most use either green or brown. Some use both as the two colors represent nature. By selecting your niche’s standard colors, you allow your business to be quickly linked to your market.
5. Incorporate an accent color.
The most effective website color scheme follows the 60-30-10 ratio. This rule means that the main hue is applied to 60% of the site while the secondary color is applied on the remaining 30%. The last 10% must be devoted to an accent color that heavily contrasts with the two predominant colors. The accent color is used to emphasize critical material on the site like a Call-to-Action.
6. Make sure the text and the background colors contrast.
Make your site's content readable. There should be high color contrast between the font color and the background color on your site. You can never go wrong with the classic dark on light combination or vice-versa.
7. Take advantage of online tools to create your site's palette.
There are a lot of color scheme generators you can use to create a professional-looking palette. Play with various wheels to come up with different color combinations. You may also look into palettes designed by others as inspiration.
30 Website Palettes that Can Inspire Your Own Color Schemes
Deciding on the best color scheme is important to the efficiency of your website. Your site layout and font choices must be created in connection with your chosen color scheme. The cohesiveness of the three ensures a design with 100% readability and appeal.
The thing is, making the right color choice can be quite challenging, especially for newbies. If you feel this way, don't worry. To help you get started on your website palette, we’ve gathered 30 awesome websites with stunning color structures to kick-start your ideas.
Shoe Kicker’s palette is a perfect example of how to use pretty pastels. The site plays with clean shades of white, blue, and pink. An ample amount of negative space is used to keep everything light and fresh.
This color palette from Stripe Apple Pay is both clean and professional-looking thanks to the perfect blend of white, pink, and a few shades of blue. The minimal color scheme makes way for the highlighted elements of the site.
This example by Mimo incorporates bursts of color that contrast with its overall minimal, streamlined effect. The contrast of yellows, blues, and pops of green against the white background results in a vibrantly professional finish.
Square Career’s color scheme uses spurts of bold hues and overlays them all over the space to create a stunning, vibrant effect. The striking colors of yellow, pink, and blue balance the neutral gray and white background.
Webflow Interaction’s palette takes advantage of the beauty of a blue jewel tone. It also incorporates barely-there gradients to create a minimal yet elegant color scheme. The splashes of pink here and there also makes the overall look modern and engaging.
Oivo’s palette is a perfect example of how to add a touch of charm to a web design. The color scheme is a mixture of earthy red, subtle grey, and clean olive. The muted palette exudes a charismatic and understated sophistication.
This color scheme from Ostrolucky evokes a world of richness, luxury, and elegance. By mixing rich browns, warm tans, and opulent grays, the website brings about a sophisticated, modern design.
The combination of rich purple and clean white works extremely well as seen in Pillow’s color palette. The striking shades of purple contrasts amazingly with the pop of crisp white to create a vivid, unique design.
When you look for a clean and calm palette, check out Sharecare’s color scheme. Fresh blue, sharp white and pops of tan dominate the site’s color design achieving a fresh, soothing effect.
Stylisto’s stylish color scheme portrays a light, welcoming, and cheery design. Mixed with a smooth gray background, the vibrant shades of pinkish peach, gold, and white result in a relaxing, warm site design.
This crisp, vibrant color design seen in Siteleaf is the perfect use of natural white background and a dynamic dominant color. The splash of yellow with hints of gray and orange creates a welcoming, lively design.
This palette from Spendesk is a perfect example of how to keep the design clean and simple using warm colors. The combination of warm tans, clean whites, and neutral grays immaculately usher visitors right to the site’s body of text.
Playing Arts’ color scheme uses a dominant central color – purple – with splashes blue, pink, and white. By using one striking color, the site radiates a contemporary, minimal palette perfect for brand websites.
Wealth Simple’s color scheme is a wealth (pun intended) of warm vintage colors. It’s the perfect palette for those who want to play around with pastels. The cohesive mixture of gray, blue, mustard yellow, and pink produces warm palette consistency.
Fiftythree’s minimalist color scheme oozes with professionalism with its varying shades of whites, grays and bursts of yellow. Rather than looking dull or outdated, the color combination fits perfectly in the site’s modern layout.
The color design used in SmartIcons is the perfect definition of clean, calm, and unique. The site’s palette of olive green, burnt red, periwinkle and natural white is pretty smart and iconic.
Xfive’s color scheme is the epitome of a clean, sharp, and professional palette. It uses shades of gray, brown, and white to compose a minimal and simple design without looking monotonous or unexciting.
Klientboost’s quirky web design is a combination of cool graphics and simple pairing of colors. Its palette plays with a mixture of shades of blue, soft white, hints of gray, and spurts of punch (pink) that blend naturally, creating a calm and modern effect.
Civic’s color scheme is a mixture of soft greens and blues with spurts of hot rosewood and crisp white. The combination of these colors radiates an interestingly intricate and lively palette that is both playful and appealing.
The color design of Appbot is perfect for the site’s context. The color combination of predominant blue, hints of white, and subtle mustard-yellow gives out a preppy, minimalist palette that’s easy on the eyes.
Formann Loyt’s color arrangement keeps things simple and uncluttered thanks largely to its monochromatic scheme. It mainly uses basic white, black, and gray to emit an air of authority with a few bursts of tan to highlight features.
Bear’s palette is pretty bare, but never boring. It impeccably embodies “less is more” with its predominantly white features and hints of black and flamingo. The combination displays a professional, minimalist look.
Another treat for those who love simplicity and minimalism, Topvisor’s color scheme is a perfect example to imitate. The site’s palette plays with shades of gray peppered with blue, white, and beige to make a simple yet tasteful combination.
Groove’s palette is composed of just three main colors – blue, white, and black. Though it appears to be a basic color scheme, when properly combined (as seen on the site), the result gives out a sleek, tailored, and professional look.
The color structure used in Positionly PRO’s site is made for those who love a sleek, dark look without going straight to plain black. The combination of shades of gray and blue with crisp white creates an authoritative, sophisticated effect.
This palette example from Robinhood features just two focal colors – white and seafoam. The result is a fresh, neat, and eye-catching color scheme everyone could appreciate.
Wunderlist’s signature colors create an inviting site design. Its palette consists of brown hues and red tones with breaks of gray and white. The combination creates an engaging and soothing effect.
Eva is a perfect example of palette that is fun, youthful, and energetic. Turquoise, cyan, and baby blue dominates the color structure. The touches of pink tones blend in nicely with them. The intermingling hues make an interesting and appealing design.
The correct colors add a certain character to the whole design, just like what the Pocket Penguins site radiates. The use of fun and vibrant shades of blue, orange, and red against a crisp white background creates a fun and unique color structure.
An Interesting Day’s palette is an interesting color combination indeed. It consists of shades of blue - a vibrant royal blue, a dash of Egyptian blue, a touch of midnight blue – and a splash of ‘ballet slipper.’ The combination makes the most amazing, almost neon-like, color scheme.
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