One of the most important choices you can make when designing your web site is the colors. The user can tell a lot about your product and your company by the use of color, without reading anything on your web site. You need to think about this when discussing the design of your site with your web designer.

The best way to choose colors for you web site is to look at what your competitors are using. For example medical and banking institutions usually use a relaxing color like blue. If you see that the majority of your competitors are using a specific color scheme you should use it to. Your customers will already be used to seeing those colors and may automatically relate them to your product.

Color Theory

You may remember some basic color theory from your childhood. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Mixing them gives you secondary colors: yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple, and so on. You can continue to mix these colors to get tertiary colors like blue-green and red-orange.


color_wheel If you look at the standard color wheel you will see that red yellow and blue appear to be at equal distances from each other. The secondary and tertiary colors are found between them. The colors on the red side of the color wheel are considered to be warm colors and the colors on the blue side are cool colors.

Color Schemes

There are thousands of different color schemes available for you web site. There are multiple ways to create a color scheme for your site but they all break down to drawing lines between these colors. Below are some of the most common.

  • Monochromatic: These are usually shades and tints of the same colors (light blue, blue, gray-blue). They can be more authoritative but are less vibrant and lack diversity.
  • Analogous: Are 3 or more colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel (e.g. blue, blue-green, and green). Analogous colors are usually found in nature and are very pleasing to the eye.
  • Split-Analogous: Two colors that are right next to each other and one from across the color wheel (e.g. red, blue & violet).
  • Complimentary: These are colors directly across from each other on the color wheel. These colors used together offer more of a visual impact (think red and green of Christmas).
  • Split-Complimentary: Four colors in total consisting of two colors near to each other and two more from across the wheel (e.g. red/violet & yellow/green).
  • Triadic: Three colors that are equidistant on the colors wheel. Just draw a triangle between three colors.
Colors and their Emotions

One reason why color is so important a choice for a web site is that colors are suggestive of emotions and many have a cultural significance. In western society, pink is associated with love and babies, in eastern societies with marriage, and in Korea with trust. Knowing your market and cultural differences can mean everything and may help get your visitors to stay longer. Check out our previous article on Colors and their Meanings.

For a site that looks professional and serious you want a monochromatic or analogous color scheme. Pastels are good for wedding and baby sites. For more visual impact use a complimentary color scheme. Choosing the right color scheme for your web site is a all about determining what colors will carry your desired message to your target market.

Matthew Minten

Matt is a techy, web guy that loves to program but am also blessed with a creative streak. He does graphic design, web design, augmented reality and photography (and many other things). He believes that anything can be done on your website; if you can think it up, he can create it. Matt founded Inventive Web Design in Reno in 2009 and has been helping local business ever since.