How to Use Color Theory to Improve Your Website


We all know that first impressions count, whether you’re at a job interview or on a Tinder date. It’s no different in web design. The first thing your visitors usually notice on a website is the color palette. It has an impact on a lot more than just the general atmosphere of your site. The right colors can strengthen whatever message you want to convey and play an important role in your users’ experience. Ultimately, they’ll affect your visitors’ click rate, length of stay and desire to return.


What does this mean for you? If you’re building your online presence, you’ll need to master the basics of color theory. From psychology to design, here are the most useful tips to choose the right colors for your website.


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  1. Stay true to your brand


First and foremost, it’s crucial to align your color palette to the brand’s overall concept. Before you make any decisions, check if your company already has a color scheme that you should stick to in your web design. If not, think about the general look and feel of the brand: Is it daring, exotic and wild, suiting bold bright colors? Or will you go for a traditional selection for a more professional look? Once you’ve decided, apply the following guidelines to create the right color cocktail for your website.


  1. Learn the tricks of color psychology


There’s more to color than meets the eye. In fact, research shows that colors have a strong impact on our emotions. This is why you should take into account color psychology when designing your website. Colors are widely identified with certain ideas. Although feelings towards colors are often personal, influenced by our culture and surroundings, most of your visitors will connect green to growth and nature, black to elegance or power, and red to urgency. An ice cream brand, for example, may go for shades of yellow on their site to create a positive carefree vibe, whereas a yoga studio may choose shades of blue and white, evoking clarity and calm.


Here’s a great guide to quickly check whether your choice of colors fits the desired atmosphere of your website:

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  1. Master the color wheel


In addition to all the basic colors already mentioned, there are, of course, an endless number of additional shades to choose from. At the core of color theory is the color wheel, a visual representation of the relationships between colors. Three primary colors make up the base of the wheel - red, blue and yellow. Between each of those are the secondary colors - green, orange and purple. And between each of those are the additional six tertiary colors, formed as a mix of the primary and secondary colors - yellow-green, green-blue, blue-purple, purple-red, red-orange, orange-yellow. There are of course infinite amounts of colours, and a color wheel can be divided endlessly.

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  1. Find the right ‘heat’ for your website


There are two main categories in the color wheel: the warm colors, revolving around red, orange and yellow, and the cool colors, revolving around blue, green and purple. When choosing which family of colors to go for on your website, consider the effect you want to achieve. Generally, warm colors are more stimulating, suggesting vigor and vitality, whereas cool colors are more peaceful and soothing. It all depends on the kind of impression you want to create in your visitors’ minds, as well as on your type of business. For example, a restaurant is more likely to go for hot hues to whet the appetite, whereas a law firm will prefer cooler tones to build trust.


Yet, as Picasso once said, you should “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”. Which means that you can always mix warm with cool hues, to create unique palettes. Just make sure to follow these useful guidelines.


  1. Combine colors successfully


Creating winning combinations can be done using a few color palettes, all of which are based on the color wheel:


  • The Complementary Scheme: Take two colors that are positioned opposite each other on the color wheel, like red and green, or blue and orange. The combination of these contrasting colors makes each one stand out more, giving your design vitality. You can add a neutral color, such as shades of beige and gray, or black and white, to create a complete palette.


  • The Analogous Scheme: Use three colors that are adjacent to each other on the wheel, like purple, purple-blue and blue, or green, lime green and yellow. As these colors are so similar to each other, they will harmonize well.


  • The Color Triad: Take any three colors on the wheel that are of an equal distance from each other, forming a perfect equilateral triangle. Create combinations such as purple, yellow-orange and blue-green, or red, yellow and blue. These colors used together on a design can be very vibrant, so consider creating a balance by choosing one to be the most dominant and the others to support, using them for example on your navigation menu or any other small detail.


  • The Split Complementary Scheme: A drop of trigonometry - choose one color and then add the two colors that sit right next to its complementary color (creating an isosceles triangle). Possible combinations here would be red, yellow-green and blue-green, or purple, yellow-orange and yellow-green. This formula offers a refined contrast, creating a slightly less bold look than the complementary one.

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  1. Put theory into practice


Now that you’ve chosen the palette, you need to figure out how much of each color to use. Find the right ratio with the ‘60-30-10’ rule. On each page of your site, use 60% of your primary color, 30% of your secondary color and 10% of your accent color. In most cases, your primary color will fill your website’s background, whereas the secondary will appear in the images and texts. Your choice of accent color is crucial, as it can be used for those small clickable buttons or call to actions, that you want your visitors to notice. Go for a bright or contrasted color that will draw your visitors’ eyes.


Final tip: Ensure to create enough of a contrast between all text and the background to make your content easy to read, without having your visitors strain their eyes. Look how Inkbyte Studios went for bold vibrant colors on their Wix website’s background, with white for their text and navigation menu - making them really stand out.

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Ready to start mixing colors? Delve into the world of web design with Wix now.



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