Choosing the Perfect Colors for Your Website

Color is hugely important when designing your website and piecing together a branding board. There is a bit more to it than simply picking your favorite colors - after all, you aren't trying to sell your brand to yourself, right? So let's talk about color.

Who is Your Customer

There's a lot of meaning behind color, a psychology behind them you should be aware of when choosing color palettes. Are you advertising for a male or female audience, or does gender not matter? Is your ideal client older or younger?  What are their hobbies?  Are they outdoors people who would love colors based on nature or are they urban night life people who might like a bolder palette?  It can feel overwhelming at first, but once you know who your customer is, you can use this guide to help you choose the perfect colors for your website.

Don't forget to account for differences in culture, where some colors are shunned in favor of others. It's important to note that, for the sake of this article, we are talking about Western cultures, so be sure to do your due research if you're branding for a company in the East.

A lot of your color choice simply depends on the image you're presenting and who your target audience is.

Choosing Your Dominant Color

One of the first things you should consider when you think about colors for your logo, branding board, or website is your dominant color. Think about a popular product like Coca-Cola, or a store like Wal-Mart. They're easy to imagine, right? Coca-Cola has that flowing font on those bright red cans, and you can easily think of the Wal-Mart sign on that signature blue backdrop. Those are the dominant colors of those two brands, something that consumers can easily remember and recognize.

Your dominant color is a largest part of your logo, branding and website. It is what sets the tone of your brand and what your customers are going to remember about your brand.

The Accent Colors  

Once you have an idea of what you want your dominant color to be, you can move on to complementary accent colors for the rest of your website. A lot of people get scared seeing all the possibilities for accent colors; it's not exactly easy for everyone to mix and match colors and know that they go together. You don't need a degree in color theory to find accent colors! There are plenty of tools online that are free and ready to help you through this trying task. You can try tools like Adobe Color or Material Palette to help you choose your accent colors. Both tools are really easy to use, and you can play with alternative options as well, just in case you were having trouble deciding on a dominant color! You really only need two or three accent colors, so don't stress too much over it.

The Background Color

The final piece to the puzzle that is your website, is the background color. This color shouldn't be overly-bright or bold, but also shouldn't be terribly boring or bland. You're looking for something that feels comfortable to look at but doesn't inherently draw the eye away from your dominant and accent colors.

The consumer or audience focus isn't on the background color, but on the content of the site itself.  If you want to build a stronger brand identity, as in our Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart examples previously, you could use varying shades of your dominant brand color as your background to reinforce the brand image in your audience's mind. Use a less intense shade than your dominant color, so the background doesn't overwhelm the content or product.

These are just general rules of thumb, and are easily broken so long as you remember you should never choose a background that makes your content difficult to read.

Put it All Together

Now that you have all of these colors, what do you do with them?

Use your colors to attract attention to things on your website that you want your audience to pay attention to. So going back to that dominant color you chose, beyond your logo you're only going to use that color in a limited number of places. It's supposed to pop on your website, so put it in places you want your visitors to pay attention to, such as newsletter buttons, buy it here buttons or phone numbers.

The accent colors act as more of a highlighter for secondary or explanatory information on your website. You still want them to stand out enough so to draw some attention if not all of it. Use accent colors on things like information boxes, subtitles, and secondary buttons.

The Customer Comes First

With all that said, the main takeaway from this article should be that a great website design always puts its audience first.  To an audience, color schemes and coordination are absolutely one of the most important parts of your website (after content, of course!). Picking colors isn't simply a gut-feeling venture, or one that focuses on the creator's favorite colors. Choosing colors should be something that takes more than five seconds of thought and considers each angle of why a particular color or palette is chosen.

By matching your brand with the proper dominant color, choosing appropriate accent colors, and picking the proper background color, you can create a vibrant website your customers will love.

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