Communicating Through Color In Web Design


When creating a website, choosing its color is one of the most important things you will have to decide upon. Research has shown that it has a significant influence on the overall message your website sends, so it stands to reason that an effective color scheme can make or break your site.

Color evokes a feeling ,” says Doctor Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University; “for example, red is almost always the color associated with sales because it inspires people to take action, it’s a stimulating sort of color.”

And it’s not just Yarrow delving into color psychology and its application, it’s a significant field, papers have been written on it and millions of marketing dollars spent on it, so it’s time you started to take notice of it and give color the kudos it’s due.

Basic Color Theory Tips

The influence color has on consumers is multifaceted. It is thought to influence their cognitive processes (subconsciously) and their judgments based on aesthetics (more consciously), and has a definite effect on their decision making.

Red, for example, is a hot color. Associated with fire, violence and anger, it has a physical effect on people, raising blood pressure and respiration rates. For this reason, in design it’s useful for portraying power, and appeals to impulse shoppers.

Orange is another warm color. It’s vibrant, energetic and commands attention. It’s considered more friendly than red, but still conveys a sense of excitement, making it great for calls to action.

Yellow, though bright and energizing in its purest form, can also be associated with danger and deceit. It ought to be used with caution, but when done well its use can achieve a sense of happiness.

Down-to-earth green is used a lot to convey an eco-friendly message. Seen so often in nature, green represents new beginnings and abundance. For this reason it is often associated with wealth.

Although ‘feeling blue’ relates to sadness, blue is the most used color in websites. It communicates advancement (often associated with technological advancement), loyalty and responsibility. The color of the sky and the ocean, it’s a constant that we can depend upon.

Purple has long been associated with royalty, and, as it’s so rare in nature, gives a sense of wealth and luxury. It also has creative connotations and links well with the imagination.

Brands Using Color Well


Shadow‘s use of red signifies importance (emphasized by their invite button).


SimpliSafe’s digital security guide uses yellow to convey a sense of caution—which is perfect for appealing to a their audience.


Oak offers a very soothing scheme that leverages pastel colors with a subtle gray background.

Tools to Help You Brainstorm

Now that you have some idea of the impressive effects that color can have on your website, it’s time to play around with it. There are several tools available online to help you experiment with your use of color, so here are just a few to get you started:

Shutterstock Spectrum
Shutterstock Spectrum is an image discovery tool that lets you explore images using a color slider rather than keywords. It’s great for brainstorming, as the images presented change in real time as you move along the slider, taking you to images you might never have thought to search for.

Colo Rotate
Colo Rotate allows you to browse color palettes, or create your own by adjusting color schemes brought to life in 3D. Their website also has a fantastic learning resource for those wanting to delve a little deeper into color theory.

Pick out the best colors to use with an image using Pictaculous. You can even use it with your phone, simply take a photo and email it to them and you’ll have a color scheme within minutes.

With so much information available about color psychology, it makes sense to try and incorporate it into your design process. Try it today – you might just be surprised by the effects.

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