How to Select the Right Colors for Web Development and Design

July 6, 2017 - By 

Web Development and DesignWeb development and design can be a challenge. There are so many decisions to make, and color is one of the most fundamental.

The right color scheme can make or break a website, playing a huge role in how well it serves its purpose.

A poor color scheme could:

  • Create a bad first impression.
  • Drive customers away.
  • Make your business appear unprofessional.
  • Make your site hard to read or navigate, damaging user experience.
  • Damage your brand image.

Does this sound extreme?

How likely are you to purchase services from a business with a website that has a black background and neon-yellow text?

Or pale yellow text on a white background?

Or every color under the sun on every single page?

You get the idea. In web development and design, color matters a whole lot.

If you’re not sure how to create the right color scheme for your website, you’re in the right place. This post will take you through the color schemes you should never use, then give you clear steps detailing how to pick the right colors for your site.

Ready to create some amazing web color schemes?

Let’s do this.

The color schemes you shouldn’t use in web development and design

Before you learn what you should do when creating color schemes for web development and design, let’s cover what you should avoid at all costs.

If any of these choices feature in your current color scheme, it’s time for a drastic redesign.

Using only one color.

You might think you’ve hit on the solution to all your color scheme woes.

“I know, I’ll just use a single color!”

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Using a single color makes it hard for visitors to distinguish between the different areas of your site. It means you can’t highlight links, buttons, and other important elements which would usually be shown in a contrasting color.

Having a single color also makes your site look basic and poorly-designed, which is not what you want.

Using rainbow colors.

On the other side of the coin, don’t think you can get away with using every color. Rainbow colors might look great on your toddler’s latest finger painting, but they aren’t right for a professional website.

Too many colors will make your site look cluttered, busy, and hard to navigate.

Too many bright/neon colors.

Your website should be easy on the eyes. If any of the colors used are painful to look at for long, they need to go.

Imagine that someone is reading a long blog post with small text on your site. Would the colors you’ve picked be comfortable to look at for long periods of time?

If not, give them a miss.

Too many dark colors.

For the vast majority of websites, light, bright colors will create the most user-friendly experience.

Sites with very dark backgrounds, lots of dark elements, and dark text don’t appear professional and aren’t pleasant to browse.

Imagine you’re designing a room, and you want it to look as welcoming as possible. You’d pick bright, neutral colors – you wouldn’t paint the walls black and put up dark brown drapes.

Light colors on a light background.

This is one of the biggest issues for many sites, especially those with lots of text.

Light colored text on a light background just isn’t easy for visitors to read, which will put them off spending time on your site.

Choose clear, contrasting colors for your design, and remember that people may be browsing on screens with low brightness, or could have visual impairments. Test your colors on a few different devices to make sure they’re as clear as possible.

The color schemes you should use in web development and design

Want to learn how to create a winning color scheme in a few easy steps?

Read on.

Pick the right starting color.

Take a deep breath.

You’re about to pick the color that your entire color scheme will be based around. This is an important color, and you might feel spoilt for choice.

If that’s the case, here are some ideas to help you pick the perfect shade:

  • Use a color already associated with your brand, like your logo color.
  • Don’t use the same color as your competition. A new cola brand in red? Not a good idea.
  • Pick a color to appeal to your audience. Gardening blog? Green could be perfect.
  • Look at color psychology for ideas. Blue is calming, orange is comforting, and yellow is emotional.

Use color palettes for inspiration.

Once you’ve decided on a base color, like red, yellow or blue, you’ll need to pick the exact shade.

This can feel pretty overwhelming, and looking to existing color palettes for inspiration can be a big help.

Simply search ‘color palettes’ or ‘design trends‘, then copy and paste hex codes, or use the color picker in your design program to grab colors. Compare a few, and avoid copying the exact shade used by a competing brand.

Save your favorite palettes, as they could help with the next step.

For a more organic color selection process, try picking colors out of a photograph – this can feel a lot more inspiring than staring at hex codes.

Choose at least one accent color.

Okay, you’ve got your base color.

Now you need to choose an accent color.

This is the shade that will be used to highlight certain elements of your site, like links, text, and buttons. It should be a color that complements your base color and stands out without looking too jarring.

If you picked your first color using a palette, you might find a suitable accent color there. If not, try looking at a color wheel and picking a color that’s opposite or next to your original shade.

Multiple accent colors can look good, but don’t go overboard – stick to a maximum of three.

If in doubt, stick with one accent color for a simple, sleek look.

Use different shades of gray for text and backgrounds.

We talked about how too many colors can make your website look cluttered.

That’s true, but it doesn’t mean you can’t add different backgrounds to certain areas of your site, or highlight specific pieces of text.

You just need to use a magical color called gray.

Grey matches perfectly with any color scheme and draws attention without looking busy or tacky.

Your color scheme should include a light gray and a dark gray, to be used anywhere you want to create separation. Pick grays that match well with your base color – for example, blue gray to match a blue base color.

Feeling lost when it comes to color schemes for web development and design?

Follow this guide and you’ll soon be creating color schemes that perfectly represent your brand and provide the framework for a beautiful, professional website.

Start creating your new web color scheme today.