Colour plays an important role in every project – printing promotional flyers, creating your brand’s logo, and establishing your brand identity. This is no less true for your website’s colour scheme.

By using different colours, you are able to convey emotions, drive conversions and earn loyalty from your customers.

When building your website, choosing the correct colours may be a difficult task. Not only is it important to find the correct colours to convey your brand, but balancing the primary and secondary colours can also be a challenge.

We’ve broken down some basics and tips on colour design in order to help you choose the best colours for your brand.

A colour wheel made out of Pantone brand colour swatches - Colour Scheme

What Is a Colour Scheme?

A colour scheme is a selected group of colours that are used for design and artistry. When you use a colour scheme for your website, you want the site to be easy for your customers to look at and navigate, and for your brand identity to be visible and easy to understand. 

A rainbow array of Pantone colour swatches

One of the most important ways to accomplish this is through your colour scheme. 

By choosing an interesting and eye-catching colour scheme, you can ensure your customer’s attention. Without the right pop of colour, your website can bore customers, or be confusing to navigate. 

A great colour scheme will help you keep customers on your site for longer, create an emotional response to your brand, encourage brand loyalty, and help you stand out among the competition. As well as establish a professional-looking website for your brand.

Colour surrounds us in everything we do: from the outfit you put on this morning, to the decor for your home, to the drinks you buy. Colour plays a huge role in daily life and can affect our mood and attitude towards products and services.

An infographic that shows different brand colour statistics. It shows that blue is the most popular colour and over 50% of logos are monochrome.

For example, let’s look at the colour purple. Purple is commonly associated with royalty and luxury. When taking this into account, it’s no surprise that the brand Cadbury uses purple in much of their marketing. 

By using this colour, they convey a sense of luxury and decadence in their product. They want consumers to associate their brand with being more rich and sophisticated than their competitors – and their purple packaging helps them achieve that.

The Colour Wheel

The easiest way to pick out a colour scheme for your brand is to utilise the colour wheel. The colour wheel is made up of 12 colours which make up the subsets of primary, secondary, and tertiary colours. By understanding how the colour wheel works, you can create colour schemes that work together and will look great on your website.

Primary Colours

The primary colours are the basis of the colour wheel. These are colours that are found naturally and cannot be created by mixing other colours. The three primary colours are red, blue, and yellow.

A graphic of the colour wheel, with primary, secondary, and tertiary colours labelled

Secondary Colours

The secondary colours are created by mixing equal parts of two primary colours. On the colour wheel, these colours are directly between each of the primary colours that are mixed to create them.

  • Red + Blue = Purple
  • Blue + Yellow = Green
  • Yellow + Red = Orange

Tertiary colours

The tertiary colours are created by mixing different primary and secondary colours. These colours are located between the primary and secondary colours that are used to create them. In total, there are 6 tertiary colours on the colour wheel:

  • Red + Orange = Red-Orange
  • Red + Purple = Red-Purple
  • Blue + Green = Blue-Green
  • Blue + Purple = Blue-Purple
  • Yellow + Orange = Yellow-Orange
  • Yellow + Green = Yellow-Green

Colour Harmonies

Colour harmony is defined as the property that distinct aesthetically pleasing colour groups have. It is created by selecting colours that work well together and compliment each other. There are many different techniques that can be used to pick out harmonious colours.

  • Complementary – Two colours that are opposite of each other on the colour wheel.
  • Split-complementary – This technique is a variation of complementary colours. This technique includes three colours: one base colour, and the two colours that are adjacent to its complement.
  • Diad – Two colours that are separated by one colour between them.
  • Triad – Three colours that are spaced equally from each other on the colour wheel.
  • Analogous – Three colours that are directly next to each other on the colour wheel.
  • Rectangle (Tetradic) – Two sets of complementary colours, equalling four colours in total.
  • Square – Four colours that are all equally spaced from each other on the colour wheel.
A mum flower with its petals dyed rainbow colours

The Psychology of Colours – What Each Colour Is Used For

Each colour can be used to convey different meanings and provoke different emotions. While some of this can be subjective and change from person to person, here is a list of some common colour portrayals, and examples of brands who use them.

  • White – Purity, clean – Ex. Apple, Wikipedia, Audi
  • Pink – Feminine, sensitive, respect – Ex. Barbie, Cosmopolitan, Hello Kitty
  • Red – Power, passion, life, health, emergency, romance, danger – Ex. Red Bull, LEGO, Nintendo, Coca-Cola
  • Orange – Friendliness, confidence, spontaneous – Ex. Fanta, Nickelodeon, Penguin Books
  • Yellow – Sunshine, happiness, caution – Ex. McDonald’s, DHL, Walkers, Lidl
  • Blue – Trust, dependable, calm, smart – Ex. Facebook, Twitter, HP
  • Black – Bold, mystery, strength – Ex. Nike, Louis Vuitton, James Bond
  • Purple – Luxury, royalty, prestige, decadence – Ex. Cadbury, Milka, Yahoo!
  • Brown – Protective, reliable, rugged, wholesome – Ex. M&Ms, Hershey’s, Dreyer’s 
  • Green – eco-friendly, health, outdoors – Ex. BP, Starbucks, Xbox
A Starbucks cup with their iconic green logo.

Balancing Colours on Your Website

Knowing which colours will promote the right emotion and identity for your brand is a huge part of choosing the right colour scheme for your website. However, it is also extremely important to balance the colours you choose correctly. It is recommended that you break down the colours you want to use into three categories: main colours, pop colours, and neutral colours. 

Main Colours

The main colours are what will be used for approximately 75% of your website’s design. You use these colours on every page of your website for content, headers, and general information.

Pop Colours

These colours are used very sparingly throughout your website. Pop colours are used to highlight only the most important information your customer needs, such as your Call to Action.

Neutral Colours

Neutral colours are also used sparingly, but more often than pop colours. These colours are used for backgrounds, negative or empty space, and within your content.

How To Choose the Correct Colour Scheme for Your Website

In order to choose the correct colour scheme for your website, you will have to take into account all of the information given here. What type of emotion or feeling do you want your website to convey? Do you want to use primary, secondary or tertiary colours?

For example, if you own a yoga studio that focuses on mental wellness and strength, green may be the perfect starter colour to look at. Green can bring feelings of nature, wellbeing, and energy, perfect for inspiring customers to try yoga.

The next step is to choose how many colours you want to work with. By taking a look at the different colour harmony techniques, this can be narrowed down.  Then, based on your main colour, you can decide to use similar colours with the analogous technique, or completely opposite colours by using the complementary colours technique. 

The best tip for any colour theory beginner is to keep your colour scheme simple and incorporate your branding.

A photo of different coloured chalk dust thrown into water

Why Colour Scheme Matters for Your Website

When building a website, brand identity is insanely important. You want to be sure that your site will convey the right message, promote your brand, and most importantly, keep customers engaged with your site. All of this can be achieved by choosing the right colour scheme.

Not only is this helpful for your website, but this same colour scheme can then be used for packaging, social media posts, and many more promotional aids. By choosing a colour scheme that works for you and your brand, you take the first step towards designing an amazing, stand-out website.

To find out more about perfecting your website, contact ProfileTree

Establishing Brand Recognition: Let Colors Speak Your Story

Your website’s color scheme isn’t just a pretty decoration; it’s a powerful storyteller, silently whispering your brand’s identity and resonating with your audience on an emotional level. Here’s how harnessing the magic of color can solidify your brand recognition and make a lasting impression on visitors:

Using Color to Reinforce Branding and Identity:

  • Embrace Your Brand Story: Your colors should tell a visual narrative that aligns with your brand’s core values and personality. Are you playful and vibrant? Opt for a palette that reflects that! Are you trustworthy and established? Sophisticated blues and greens might be your best bet.
  • Consistency is Key: Once you’ve chosen your color palette, ensure it’s used consistently across all platforms – your website, social media, marketing materials, and even physical branding. This helps solidify your brand image and make it instantly recognizable in any context.
  • Consider Emotional Associations: Different colors evoke specific emotions and feelings. Red screams boldness and excitement, while blue exudes calmness and trust. Choose colors that align with the emotions you want your brand to evoke in your audience.

Cohesive Color Scheme Across Platforms:

  • Harmony within Diversity: While maintaining consistency, you can still infuse some flexibility. Use your primary brand colors as the anchor and introduce complementary or accent colors on different platforms to inject variety and cater to specific contexts.
  • Think Mobile-First: Today, most website visits happen on mobile devices. Ensure your color scheme translates well to smaller screens with optimal contrast and legibility. Consider conducting mobile-specific color palette tests to guarantee a seamless user experience.
  • Branding Beyond the Website: Extend your color scheme to your social media pages, email marketing templates, and even offline materials like brochures and business cards. This creates a unified brand experience and strengthens your image in every interaction.

Influencing First Impressions: Let Colors Be Your Welcome Mat

The first few seconds on your website are crucial for forming a lasting impression. Here’s how your color choices can influence user reactions and set the tone for their browsing experience:

  • Colors Make a Statement: Bright and vibrant colors can instantly grab attention, exude positivity, and create an inviting atmosphere. Think fresh greens, sunny yellows, or playful aquas.
  • Legibility First: Never compromise readability for aesthetics. Ensure your chosen colors provide sufficient contrast, especially for text elements. White backgrounds with dark text remain a classic for optimal legibility.
  • Professionalism in Colors: Subtle, muted tones and sophisticated color combinations can convey a sense of trust, reliability, and professionalism. Deep blues, elegant grays, and rich earth tones can do wonders for brands aiming for a mature and professional image.

Directing Visual Hierarchy: Let Color Guide the Eye

A website bursting with vibrant colors might be visually appealing, but true design mastery lies in harnessing color strategically to direct users’ attention and prioritize information. By mastering the art of color-driven visual hierarchy, you can guide visitors through your website, highlight key calls to action, and ensure your message resonates loud and clear.

Using Color to Establish Visual Priority:

  • The Power of Contrast: Play with contrast to make elements stand out. Use brighter or bolder colors for crucial elements like calls to action (CTAs), important buttons, or headlines. This naturally draws the eye and encourages user engagement.
  • Depth and Dimension: Cooler colors recede visually, while warmer colors advance. Leverage this principle to create depth and dimension on your website. Use cooler tones for backgrounds and warmer tones for elements you want to prioritize.
  • Size and Placement Matter: Remember, color isn’t the only player. Combine it with strategic element size and placement for maximum impact. Place larger, brightly colored elements in key areas of focus, while smaller, subdued elements can provide supporting information.

Drawing Attention to Key CTAs and Content:

  • The CTA Spotlight: Make your CTAs irresistible! Use colors that stand out drastically from the background. Consider vibrant reds, oranges, or contrasting accents to make those buttons scream “Click me!”
  • Important Content Amplification: Highlight crucial content snippets, stats, or quotes with color contrasts. This draws attention to valuable information and ensures they don’t get lost in the visual tapestry.
  • Visual Callouts: Use colored borders, boxes, or subtle gradients to visually call out important sections of text or specific offers. This guides users’ attention and helps them navigate through your website effectively.

Conveying the Right Message: Let Colors Speak volumes.

Beyond aesthetics, different colors carry inherent meanings and evoke specific emotions. Choosing a color scheme that aligns with your messaging is crucial for conveying the right tone and building a consistent brand identity.

  • Colors and Emotions: Red embodies passion, excitement, and urgency; blue exudes trust, calmness, and security; green speaks to nature, growth, and freshness. Understand the emotional associations of your chosen colors and ensure they align with the message you want to convey.
  • Brand Personality Match: Are you a playful and youthful brand? Embrace vibrant palettes and playful contrasts. A sophisticated and established brand might be best served by elegant neutrals and subtle color accents.
  • Cultural Considerations: Remember, color meanings can vary across cultures. Be mindful of your target audience and avoid using colors that might have negative connotations in their cultural context.

Enhancing Readability: Let Colors Guide the Flow of Words

A website bursting with vibrant colors might be visually compelling, but true design mastery lies in ensuring those colors enhance rather than hinder readability. By understanding the power of color contrast and prioritizing eye-friendly combinations, you can create a website where words flow seamlessly, inviting users to delve deeper into your content.

Contrast Between Text and Background Colors:

  • The Golden Rule: Ensure sufficient contrast between your text and background colors. Aim for a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for standard text and 3:1 for large, bold text. Online tools like WebAIM’s Contrast Checker can help you verify your choices.
  • Consider Accessibility: Be mindful of users with visual impairments. Avoid relying solely on color for differentiation (e.g., using red text for an error message without visual cues like italics or bolding).
  • Light and Dark Harmony: Light text on dark backgrounds can create a dramatic and sophisticated look, but ensure the text remains clearly legible. Conversely, too much white on white can strain the eyes. Find a balance that prioritizes clear reading.

Avoiding Color Combinations that Strain the Eyes:

  • The Clash of Titans: Steer clear of jarring color combinations like red and green, which can be difficult for some users to distinguish, especially those with color blindness.
  • Vibrant Moderation: While vibrant colors can be visually appealing, use them sparingly for text elements. Overlaying bright text on complex backgrounds can create visual clutter and fatigue the eyes.
  • The Power of Neutrals: Don’t underestimate the power of neutral backgrounds. White, light gray, or beige can provide a clean canvas for your text, ensuring optimal legibility and preventing visual overload.

Driving Conversions and Clicks: Let Colors Spur Action

Beyond readability, certain colors can subtly nudge users towards taking action. Understanding the psychological impact of various hues can help you strategically craft a color scheme that drives conversions and encourages clicks.

Colors Like Orange and Red Encourage Clicks: Studies suggest that colors like orange and red can elicit a sense of urgency and excitement, making them ideal choices for CTAs (call to action) buttons or purchase links.

  • The “Stop Sign” Effect: Red instinctively attracts attention, making it a powerful choice for highlighting important buttons or limited-time offers.
  • Orange Buzz: Orange exudes a youthful energy and a sense of fun, making it suitable for playful brands or promoting adventurous initiatives.

Testing Color Schemes for Conversion Lift:

  • The Power of A/B Testing: Don’t just rely on theory! Experiment with different color schemes for your CTAs and key elements and track the impact on conversion rates. A/B testing helps you identify the combinations that lead to the most clicks and purchases.
  • Heatmaps and Analytics: Utilize heatmaps and analytics tools to see where users’ eyes land on your website. Analyze how color choices influence user behavior and adapt your strategy accordingly.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: By analyzing real user data, you can move beyond guesswork and optimize your color scheme for maximum conversion potential.

Colour scheme FAQ:

1. My brand colors are already quite bold and vibrant. Should I still consider current trends?

Absolutely! Even with a bolder palette, you can incorporate trendy accents or subtle adjustments to keep your website fresh and modern. Consider using monochromatic variations of your main colors or adding pops of trendy hues to key elements like CTAs or hero sections. Remember, trends offer inspiration, not strict rules!

2. Accessibility seems complicated. Are there any quick tools or resources I can use?

Yes! Tools like WebAIM’s Contrast Checker and Color Contrast Checker by APCA allow you to easily test your color combinations for WCAG compliance. Additionally, resources like the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative offer comprehensive guidelines and best practices for designing accessible websites.

3. I’m worried about making too many changes and confusing my audience. How can I update my color scheme subtly?

Start small! Experiment with introducing trendy accents or changing the shades and tints of your existing colors. You can also update your website’s background textures or gradients for a fresh look without drastically altering your brand identity. Remember, gradual updates are often more effective than complete overhauls.

4. I’m not sure my website needs a color scheme overhaul. Should I still optimize my colors?

Yes! Even minor tweaks can improve readability, accessibility, and user engagement. Ensure sufficient contrast, consider mobile optimization, and analyze how your colors influence user behavior. Every color choice, big or small, contributes to the overall experience.

5. Where can I get more inspiration for creating a new color scheme?

Explore online platforms like Dribbble, Behance, and Pinterest for design inspiration. Analyze websites you admire and see how they leverage color to achieve specific goals. Additionally, don’t forget the real world! Nature walks, art galleries, and even fashion magazines can offer unexpected color combinations and spark creativity.

Colour scheme Conclusion:

Your website’s color scheme is more than just a decorative element; it’s a powerful tool for storytelling, driving engagement, and ensuring inclusivity. By embracing current trends, prioritizing accessibility, and constantly refining your choices, you can create a visually captivating website that speaks volumes about your brand and resonates with your audience.

Remember, color is your canvas, so let your creativity flow, experiment with confidence, and paint your website with a palette of success!

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