A beginner’s guide to using colour in web design

Website design is like any other type of design, in that you need to have a good understanding of the basics – from spatial planning and aesthetics to typography, as well as the technical skills. One of the trickiest things to get right is use of colour. Nearly all websites will have some elements of colour, unless they are particularly stylised with a monochrome, minimalist or greyscale palette.

Using it effectively is something of an art form, but everyone has to start somewhere. Here are some basic tips on using colour in web design to help you start thinking along the right lines.

What colour can do

Before you start using colour on your website, you need to know just what it can do. Colour can be very powerful, helping to:

  • Direct attention to certain elements of the site. Picture a greyscale design with accents of bright yellow, which includes the call to action button. The eye simply cannot help being drawn to these elements first.
  • Create mood. Colour can help to set the tone and personality for your brand, via your website. It can be fun and playful, friendly and approachable, or help to establish the sense of a ‘luxe’ brand.
  • Set your site apart. If you’re struggling to stand out from your competitors, colour can help you to make a grand statement. Users simply won’t be expecting an explosion of colour when they click onto your site, and when used correctly – this can make you really memorable.

Using colour

To help you start using colour on your site and do it well, start with a mood board. You need to understand how the colour palette you put together feels, as well as how it looks. Shopify has a very handy guide to the different emotions that psychologists say we associate with each colour – for example, passion, danger, power and importance are associated with red.

Bear the following in mind when planning your colour palette:

  • Stronger colours will have visual prominence. This means that if you use too much pure black, for example, this will overwhelm the other colours and elements on the page. If you don’t want the element to have too much prominence, you’ll need to tone it down.
  • Using too many colours will dilute your message. Try to limit yourself to a maximum of three colours, as research has shown that people prefer simpler colour schemes.
  • Using colour is all about balance. As well as how many colours you use, how much colour you apply to the design is very important. Colour, just like the other elements of your design, need to be balanced.
  • The temperature of the colours is important. When you look at an image with lots of orange colours in it, the general effect is that it makes the image appear happier and warmer. This relates to the temperature of the image, and the same applies to the colours you use on your site. Choosing the right temperature is crucial to creating the right mood and personality.

For more help using colour on your site, get in touch with the web design experts at Ambos Digital