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

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.

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

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