Web Design Colour Choices: Using Colour Strategically On Your Website

When it comes to creating a visually appealing website, using colour strategically is key. By understanding the basics of web design colour theory and incorporating psychology into your choices, you can create a site that resonates with your audience on a deeper level.

We explore how to better choose the colours you use on your website in this article. From understanding the fundamentals of colour theory to considering user experience and accessibility, we will guide you through the process step by step.

Whether you're revamping an existing site or starting from scratch, we show you how to make strategic colour choices that engage your visitors and leave a lasting impression...

Key Talking Points:

“Colour is a crucial element when it comes to design and striking the right balance is key. An excessive use of colour may appear tacky, while a lack of it can result in a bland and unengaging look. A strategic use of colour adds value to a design. It’s a tool to subtly influence the viewers' emotions and guide their focus towards intended focal points.”

- Mike Danks, Lead Creative, Omnisity

When it comes to web design colour choices, it's important to use colour strategically. This begins with understanding primary, secondary, and tertiary colours, as well as saturation and value. Additionally, knowing how warm and cool colours can impact the mood of your website will help you create a visually appealing design.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colours

When it comes to the digital world, the primary colours are red (#FF0000), green (#00FF00), and blue (#0000FF). These tend to be bold and attention-grabbing, so should be used if you want something to stand out or you want to quickly grab someone’s attention. By comparison, secondary colours like cyan, yellow, and magenta are formed by mixing equal proportions of two primary colours. These are often used to add depth and variety to a site’s colour scheme; making it more interesting, unique and visually appealing. Finally, tertiary colours are typically created by mixing one part of a primary colour with half part of another primary, and the second half of a non-primary colour. These tend to be relatively neutral.




Understanding Saturation and Value

In finding your colours, you should try experimenting with the different combinations of saturation and value. 

  • Saturation defines the intensity or purity of a colour. Highly saturated colours appear vibrant and bold, while desaturated ones are more muted.
  • Value, also known as lightness, measures how bright or dark a colour appears compared to pure white.

Using these principles strategically will help you convey the right emotions and messages through colour on your website, ultimately strengthening your brand identity.


Warm and Cool Colours

Using the contrast between warm and coolness is a way of eliciting a variety of emotions from your audience. Warm colours, such as red, orange, and yellow, evoke feelings of energy, passion, and excitement. These hues are perfect for grabbing attention and creating a sense of urgency on your website. On the other hand, cool colours like blue, green, and purple convey a calming and soothing effect. They are great for promoting trust, relaxation, and stability. By strategically using warm or cool colours in your web design, you can influence the emotions and perceptions of your audience. Keep in mind that warm colours tend to advance visually while cool colours recede. Understanding these differences will help you effectively communicate your brand message through colour choices on your website.


Using Colour Harmony and Contrast Effectively

Achieving a balanced design is essential in creating a pleasant user experience, and one way to do this is through effective colour harmony and contrast. Did you know that using contrasting colours can draw attention to specific points on a page? As the name suggests, using colour harmony and contrast effectively promotes:

  • Harmony: By selecting colours that work well together, you can create a sense of balance and unity in your design. This will make your website visually appealing and pleasing to the eye.
  • Contrast: High contrast between background colour and text ensures readability. Using a white background with dark text or vice versa helps users differentiate between elements easily.
  • Attention: Contrasting colours can be strategically used to highlight important sections or call-to-action buttons on your website, guiding users' focus where it's needed.

By understanding the principles of colour theory and utilising colour harmony and contrast effectively, you can enhance the overall user experience of your website.

When it comes to web design, understanding colour psychology can be used to better target your audience, evoke emotions from them, and encourage them to engage in your brand.


The Different Colours Evoke Various Emotions

Colours have the power to make your website more memorable in a way that helps visitors to form an emotional connection to your brand. For instance:

  • Red: Symbolises love, passion, but also danger or anger.
  • Orange: Reminds users of friendliness, enthusiasm, and motivation.
  • Yellow: Symbolises joy, happiness, and sunlight.
  • Green: Is typically associated with nature, ecology, and renewing energy.
  • Blue: Represents trustworthiness and reliability.

By understanding the emotional associations of different colours, you can strategically choose colours that resonate with your target audience to create a memorable website experience.


Targeting Your Audience Through Colour

Understanding your audience's preferences is key to designing a website that appeals to them. Consider the age, culture, and life experiences of your audience when selecting a colour scheme that will evoke the desired emotions and associations. This approach not only ensures a visually appealing website but also helps in boosting memory retention and recall of your brand or product.

By aligning your colour choices with your target audience's preferences and expectations, you can create a visually engaging website that captures their attention and keeps them coming back for more. The right colour palette can make all the difference in connecting with your desired audience.

When it comes to web design, colour can help define hierarchy and navigation. By incorporating high-contrast elements, such as buttons and links, you can showcase essential details and guide users through your website.

Additionally, applying colour to call-to-action elements can make it easier for users to navigate and increase sales conversions. To ensure a balanced design, it's important to follow best practices for using colour in backgrounds, typography, and visuals.


Using Colour to Define Hierarchy and Navigation

Start by strategically using different shades and tones to guide your visitors through the content and navigation of your website. Colour can be a powerful tool in defining hierarchy and helping users find their way around. Here are three ways you can use colour to achieve this:

  • Use contrasting colours for important elements: By making key information or calls to action stand out with bold, vibrant colours, you can draw attention to them and make them more noticeable.
  • Create a colour-coded system: Assign different colours to different sections or categories on your website. This will help users quickly identify the type of content they're looking for and navigate accordingly.
  • Gradually change colours to indicate depth: If you have multiple levels of navigation, using lighter or darker shades of the same colour can visually represent the hierarchy. This will give users a sense of progression as they move deeper into your site.


Applying Colour to Buttons, Links, and Call-To-Action Elements

Understanding how colour defines hierarchy and navigation on your website can help you when applying colour to buttons, links, and call-to-action elements. These elements play a vital role in guiding your visitors and encouraging them to take action. When choosing colours for buttons, consider using contrasting shades that stand out from the rest of the page. This will draw attention to them and make them more clickable. For links, it's common practice to use a different colour or underline them so they're easily recognisable as clickable options. As for call-to-action elements, such as sign-up forms or purchase buttons, make sure they have a bold colour that stands out. This will help grab users' attention and prompt them to take the desired action.


Best Practices for Using Colour in Backgrounds, Typography and Visuals

Start by selecting background colours that complement your brand identity and enhance readability. Avoid using overly bright or distracting backgrounds that can overwhelm the content. Instead, opt for subtle shades or gradients that provide a pleasing backdrop for your text and images. When it comes to typography, choose colours that ensure legibility and convey the right mood. Use contrasting colours between the text and background to make it easier on the eyes. Additionally, consider adding pops of colour in your visuals such as images or illustrations to add visual interest and draw attention to important elements on your website.

Exploring Different Types of Colour Schemes

When choosing colours for your website, it's important to consider different types of colour schemes that can help you create a visually appealing design. One option is a complementary colour scheme, where you pair colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel to create contrast and make elements stand out. Another option is an analogous colour scheme, where you choose colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel for a harmonious and cohesive look. Lastly, you can also explore monochromatic colour schemes, which involve using different shades and tints of a single hue to create depth and interest.


Complementary Colour Schemes

Using complementary colour schemes in web design can create a visually striking and harmonious website. Complementary colours are located opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as blue and orange or red and green. When used together, they provide a strong contrast that catches the viewer's attention. This scheme is often used to highlight important elements or create a sense of balance. However, it's important to use complementary colours sparingly to avoid overwhelming the viewer.


Analogous Colour Schemes

To create a harmonious and cohesive look on your website, try incorporating analogous colour schemes. These schemes involve using colours next to each other on the colour wheel. By doing this, you can achieve a visually pleasing design that's easy on the eyes. Here are two examples of how you can use analogous colours effectively:

  • Use shades of blue and green for a calming and refreshing feel.
  • Combine red, orange, and yellow for a warm and energetic vibe.


Monochromatic Colour Schemes

With a monochromatic scheme, you'll stick to different shades and tints of a single colour. This design choice offers a clean and cohesive look while still allowing for variations in tone. By sticking to one colour family, you can create a visually pleasing and calming effect on your website.


Tips for Selecting a Cohesive Colour Palette

To create a visually appealing and effective website, start by:

  1.  Understand your target audience: Consider their preferences, cultural associations with colours, and the emotions you want to evoke.
  2.   Limit your colour choices: Stick to a maximum of five colours to avoid overwhelming visitors.
  3.   Use contrast wisely: Ensure there is enough contrast between text and background colours for readability.
  4.  Test your palette: Check how your chosen colours appear on different devices and browsers before finalising.

When it comes to designing your website, it's important to consider the needs of all users, including those with visual impairments.


Importance of Designing for All Users, Including Those With Visual Impairments

Designing for all users, including those with visual impairments, is crucial as approximately 285 million people worldwide have a visual impairment. These individuals rely on assistive technologies like screen readers or magnifiers to navigate the web. By considering their needs during the design process, you can ensure that your website is accessible and inclusive.

One of the key aspects of designing for visually impaired users is choosing appropriate colour combinations. High-contrast colours are essential as they improve readability and make it easier for these users to distinguish between different elements on a webpage.

Additionally, providing alternative text for images and using descriptive headings can greatly enhance the user experience. By making your website accessible to all users, you create an inclusive online environment where everyone can access information and engage with your content effectively.


Tips for Ensuring Colour Contrast and Readability

When it comes to web design, colour choices play a significant role in creating an engaging and accessible experience for your users. To ensure maximum readability, it's crucial to have sufficient contrast between text and background colours. This means using dark text on a light background or vice versa. Avoid using similar colours that blend and make it difficult for users to read the content.


Software and Tools for Testing Colour Accessibility

To ensure your website is accessible to all users, software and tools are available to test the accessibility of colours. These tools can help you determine if the colour combinations used on your website have enough contrast and are readable for people with visual impairments. Using these will improve your site’s user experience, all while making you more inclusive. Colour contrast checkers like WebAIM's Contrast Checker allows you to input specific colours and instantly determine if they meet accessibility standards.

Tools like Stark provide simulations of how individuals with colour blindness perceive your website's colours. Additionally, browser extensions such as the Accessibility Insights for Web can be used to test colour accessibility directly within your browser.

Overall, when it comes to web design colour choices, it's crucial to use colours strategically on your website. By understanding the basics of colour theory and incorporating colour psychology, you can create a visually appealing and engaging user experience.

Remember to carefully choose a colour scheme that aligns with your brand identity and consider accessibility for all users. Just like an artist carefully selects their palette, you too can paint a captivating online presence with the right colours.

Want some help choosing an effective colour scheme for your website? Our expert design team is here to help. Get in touch today to take your website's colour scheme to the next level!

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