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Are You Choosing the Right Colors for Your Website?

When it comes to choosing colors for your website design, you are faced with an entire rainbow of choices. It is vital that you choose visually pleasing colors. On average, people form their first impression of your website within 50 milliseconds. That means if your color palette isn't visually pleasing, it takes the user less than a second to be turned off.

Choosing the right colors for your website can seem almost daunting if you aren’t quite sure where to start. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true tips that will help you choose the perfect color combination to use on your site.

1. Colors and Emotion

There is an entire psychology to color choices. People tend to relate certain colors with specific emotions or things. For example, if you want your brand to speak of nature, you might choose green and brown. You can also consider what colors people enjoy most. Men and women both cite blue as their favorite color, but men cite it at 57 percent, while women only at 35 percent.

bass pro shops website colors

Take a look at the colors on the Bass Pro Shops website. Note how earthy tones are used, such as greens, deep blues and brick reds. These colors speak of the outdoors and pull the reader in, while incorporating popular choices, such as blue and green.

2. Colors to Avoid

There are some color combinations you’ll want to avoid, of course. Using light text on a light background is jarring. Using a bright red for more than a headline can also hurt the user’s eyes. Other things to be aware of is using too many colors, such as a very busy background, or using neon colors that don’t translate well online.

Defining what colors look bad together isn’t always easy. It is one of those things most designers know when they see it. If it hurts your eyes or makes you wince, then you need to make some adjustments. There are some color palette wizards you can find with by using a search engine. These will help you choose colors that go well together.

3. Limited Number of Colors

One technique that can be quite effective is to limit the number of colors on your page. Choose three strong colors and then allow yourself to also use white where needed, and your overall look will be clean. This can help draw the eye of site visitors exactly where you want.

wing tactical website colors

Take a look at Wing Tactical. Its website has several strong, but simple color choices. You’ll note red, black and gray. It also uses a bit of white and a lighter gray in the background. By limiting the number of colors within the palette, the overall site conveys a sense of strength and reliability.

4. Pick a Primary Color

One thing that is important is to pick a color to be the primary color, so the balance of colors on the page is aesthetically pleasing. As a rule of thumb, your primary color should take up about 60 percent of the page. You might use your primary color in your logo, muted in the background and in the headers on your page.

You then want a contrasting color for 30 percent of your page. Finally, add a third color that complements one of the other two colors and use it on 10 percent of your page to draw attention to the areas where you want the reader to take action.

5. Favorite Colors and the Sexes

Once you tap into your target demographic, it will be easier to choose colors for your site and your brand. If your audience is made up mainly of women, then know that women’s top color choices are blue and purple, but that they also like softer colors. Men, on the other hand, like blue and green, but prefer bold colors. If your site caters to both genders, then blue is a smart choice as it tops the list of favorites for both men and women. Just choose a middle-of-the-road hue and you should be safe.

rentberry  website colors

Take a look at Rentberry’s website. It is done in various shades of blue and purple, so it’s obviously geared toward both genders. However, the hues are mostly middle-depth hues rather than pastels or bold colors. The overall effect is quite striking and visually pleasing for both genders.

6. Use Web-Safe Colors

Website colors can look different from one computer screen to the next, particularly between mobile devices and desktops, but even the resolution of the screen can make a difference here. One way you can ensure your site colors look the same across all screens is to use web-safe color choices. There are 216 colors that are considered web-safe.

7. Color Accessibility

About one in every 12 men are colorblind and about 1 in every 200 women. The range of color blindness and types varies, but if you want to make your site accessible for those who do have some sort of color vision impairment, you’ll want to think through your choices carefully. When it comes to making your site accessible for those with colorblindness, you’ll want to think about contrast.

For example, if the person has a hard time seeing blue, then using a dark blue text on a medium blue background is going to create issues for that person. Instead, use navy text on a very pale blue background to create more contrast. That person might see both as shades of gray, but they will be more crisp and distinct.

we are colorblind

A good example of a site designed with colorblind users in mind can be seen at We Are Colorblind. Note how there is high contrast between the black text and light gray background. There is a blue button on the page for its Twitter account, but it is set off within a box that is quite a bit darker than the background, making it easy to spot. Fortunately, there are some online checkers you can use to test your site for usability for color blindness.

Colors Matter

At the end of the day, the colors you choose for your design matter on a number of levels. Not only does the color scheme need to make sense for the type of website you own, but the colors also need to work together and have a purpose. Consider all these factors and visitors will find your site intriguing and visually pleasing.

Lexie 1

Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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