Color Tips for Elegant Website Design
Choosing the right color for your website is about more than just aesthetics. Colors do more than brighten up your web design — they also evoke very particular emotions and reactions.
Consider the mood you want to create when people visit your site. Do you want them to take action? Feel happy? Secure? It’s important to choose a color (or colors) that match with your company or brand’s overall vibe.
How to Choose Colors for Your Website for Maximum Impact
If you’re designing a website for a company or brand, the best place to start is with their current logo or overall branding. Unless you are completely overhauling the branding for your company, it’s best to stick with their current colors, tone and feel — customers should be able to come to the site and know exactly who you are (even if the site looks much better than it did before!)
Starting from scratch? Take a look below to choose a color that works for the site you’re creating.
Looking to make a statement on your website? Choose red. Red demands attention, so it’s the perfect color for website buttons enticing customers to buy, subscribe or read more.
Because red is such a powerful color, it is often combined with more neutral colors (think white, black, grey, tan, etc.) Avoid combining red with other bright colors in your web design, as this can be visually overwhelming and detract from your site’s visual appeal. Choose a brighter shade to add energy to your website or try a darker shade for a more elegant touch.
If the idea of using red in your website seems too overpowering, try orange — this bright color catches the eye, but rouses a less strong reaction than red.
In its more muted forms, orange can even serve as a neutral, evoking the colors of autumn for a more earthy feel.
It’s probably no surprise that yellow is the color most often associated with energy and happiness. Using yellow in a website (usually as an accent color) is a great way to liven up your design and add a cheery element to an otherwise minimal site.
Pale yellow is also perfect for sites geared towards new moms or babies, as it is commonly used as a gender-neutral substitute for light blue and light pink.
Green has long been associated with money and wealth, and many companies do use darker shades of green to portray a sense of stability and professionalism.
Today, however, you’ll primarily see green used in web designs for companies with an eco-friendly edge or a nature-based service or product. Because of its association with the great outdoors, yellowish green (combined with shades of brown) is a great pick if you’re going for a more natural feel.
Think about all the banks, financial institutions and big corporations you know — how many use blue in their logo? To establish a sense of professionalism, trust or reliability with your brand or business, blue is a great choice.
On the other hand, lighter shades of blue have been shown to have more calming effects, so choose sky blue or pale blue for a lighter, more relaxed feel.
Designing a website for a luxury company or brand? Try purple, a color that has long been associated with richness and royalty. Combined with black or gray, purple creates an air of mystery and refinement that’s perfect for high-end websites.
Purple is also a great pick for creative sites. Choose a lighter shade of purple, like lavender, for sites with a more romantic theme.
Of course, neutrals each have their own associations as well:
- Black – elegance, power, mystery
- White – cleanliness, simplicityv
- Gray – modernity, professionalismv
- Brown – earthiness, warmth, dependabilityv
- Cream – elegance, history
Creating a Color Scheme: Color Palette Combinations
If you’re uneasy about using too much color in your web design, neutrals are a great place to start. Choose a neutral background color that has the look and feel you’re going for, then liven things up using color in your header, fonts, buttons, menus and more.
The first place to look for accent colors is your logo. If you’re starting from the ground up, try one of the suggestions below:
- Monochromatic colors – Darker or lighter shades of the same hue (i.e. navy & light blue)
- Complementary colors – Colors opposite each other on the color wheel (i.e. red & green)
- Analogous colors – Colors next to each other on the color wheel (i.e. yellow, green & blue)
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to these color palettes, but they are good starting points for attractive web design.
RGB or CMYK?
For website designs, RGB is the way to go. RGB colors are additive, which means they are based on light emission — just like on a television or computer screen. Ever looked carefully at a screen pixel on an older TV monitor? You’ll see that each pixel is made up of red, green and blue light. The more colors that are present in the pixel, the whiter the area of the screen becomes.
If you’re planning on printing your designs, select a CMYK color scheme. Printers run on cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink, making these colors ideal for web to print designs.
Quality Web Design You Can Be Proud Of
Still at a loss about choosing colors for your website? Take a look at what other great companies or brands are doing with their web design color choices.
Be aware, however, that web design trends do come and go. But with the right colors and design choices, you can create a website you’ll be proud of for years to come.