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Color Theory And Web Design

For today’s post, I thought it might be a good idea to dive in the wonderful world of color theory. When it comes to websites, magazine ads, billboards and so on, there’s a lot more than just layout that draws your attention. Color can be a very powerful tool if one can utilize it properly as each color has a different meaning, and can excite different emotions from it’s viewers. For each basic color, I’ll show a web example to help illustrate my point.

Red has more personal associations than any other color. Recognized as a stimulant, red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention, and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.

Orange is generally fun and flamboyant orange radiates warmth and energy.

Yellow can give a sense of optimism and happiness. As a down side, yellow can also be hard to read depending on its background color.

Green, from forest to lime, are seen as tranquil and refreshing, with a natural balance of cool and warm (blue and yellow) undertones. Green is also the representational color of all things organic and Eco-friendly.

Blue can often promote a sense of stability, but lighter, stronger shades can promote a type of exhilaration.

Purple is associated with royalty, and can also spark a flame for creativity.

Pink can be youthful, fun, and exciting, and some have the same high energy as red.

Brown says stability, reliability, and approachability. It associated with all things natural or organic.

Gray is perceived as long-lasting, classic, and often as sleek or refined. It is a color that is dignified, conservative, and carries authority. Gray is a perfect neutral, which is why designers often use it as a background color.

Black is authoritative, powerful and sophisticated; because black can evoke strong emotions, too much can be overwhelming.

White projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. Doctors don white coats, brides traditionally wear white gowns, and a white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home. In the medical sense, white will give off the idea of sterility (but too much sterility in design is boring!).

Now that we’ve got the meanings out of the way, let’s see how they translate to your website’s success.

How To Choose?
Picking a color for a website means much more then picking your favorite color and turning it into a layout. It means picking the right color in order to get the desired response from your audience. If you know your audience well and figured out which color works best for them, you are already halfway there in the creation process. It is also quite unlikely to pick a color that will fit every visitor of your website, therefore it is even more important to be able to determine which color and tone works best for most users you target. Also, keep in mind that the first thing people need to recognize when they see your site are the brand colors. If you have multiple colors and they can’t see the most dominant, it means you should consider a redesign.

Mix and Match
Different color schemes can create very different responses from your audience. Try and find one that fits the level of professionalism and general feel of your company. Here are some examples of some different color mixes.

Look Here!
Using complimentary colors, or other color schemes where a brighter color will stand out from the rest of your site is a great way to get people’s attention. Use this tactic when creating your Call to Actions to get a higher click ratio.

As you can now see, color is one of the most important things to consider with your website. One incorrect usage, and you’ve given your audience the wrong impression of your business. With proper usage, you can direct the viewer’s eye to where you want it and give the calm sense of “it’s OK to buy” at the same time.

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About Marc
Marc Ohmann is president of Digital Solutions, Inc in Minneapolis. Digital Solutions is the company behind the MDWebPro blog and tool set. Marc was a computer science and engineering student at the University of Minnesota in 1999 when he started Digital Solutions. Marc, now a husband and father of 3, greatly enjoys the clients and creativity he is involved in each day through Digital Solutions. Follow Marc on Twitter @marcohmann and @MDWebPro and also on Google Plus

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