The role of web design today is much more than simply creating beautiful, aesthetically pleasing websites. It’s also an important weapon in fighting for users’ attention, time, and clicks.
On the same token, the role of colour in web design is at least twofold as well. Of course, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of good looks. But more importantly, the right choice and usage of colours can help you build great UX and tell visitors more about your brand.
The Power of Colours
The expressivity of colours can sometimes be truly extraordinary. It’s possible to utilise them to communicate the most complex and profound ideas, sometimes without using a single word. In web design, you can use colours for a variety of purposes, including:
• Conveying messages
• Redirecting users’ attention
• Driving clicks and conversions
• Strengthening your branding efforts
Let’s take a look at how you can make the most out of these facts.
Choice of a Dominant Colour
First of all, there are no good or bad colours in web design. There are only those that provoke the right feelings and ensure the proper user experience and those that don’t. And of course, the “right” feelings are those which a certain brand wants to emphasise or evoke in users.
It’s important to think about your target group and adapt to them. Always mind who they are, what they want, and how they’ll feel and react to your design.
Now, here are some general popular perceptions of each colour. This can be a good starting point for your choice of a colour palette.
• Yellow is the colour of the sun. It symbolises warmth, light, and happiness. It’s a fun and energising colour, best for brands that wish to look youthful and lively.
• Red can have multiple functions. It can mean love, but also power, anger, violence, or danger. Companies that wish to capitalise on evoking a fearless, passionate, hands-on attitude in their customers can find it useful.
< • Blue draws its meaning from its most prominent natural representations – ocean and space. It’s the colour of calmness, cleanliness, trust, stability, and responsibility.
• Green is money. But also, green is nature. That’s why the symbolism of this colour goes from health and environment all the way to financial growth and reliability.
• Purple, just like most composite colours, takes a little bit from each of its constituent colours, red and blue. It’s also historically related to wealth and luxury.
Obviously, all these colors, as well as those we haven’t included, are not equally useful for different industries and different target groups.
Take Hello Mind, for example. It’s a self-help app that assists people in dealing with different mental or physical issues. By heavy use of green, the designers are trying to evoke a sense of safety, familiarity, freedom, personal and financial growth. It also suggests that we need to look back into ourselves, into our roots and nature, and get to truly know who we are in order to be genuinely happy.
Or watch how United Airlines bases its entire visual identity on blue. It makes sense for an airline company that wishes to present itself as trustworthy, reliable, and safe.
Choice of Colour Schemes
Now, the dominant colour is not the only aspect of colour in web design that affects people’s emotions and decisions. There are endless possible combinations of different tones of all the different colours that you can use in the most creative ways to leave the right impression.
Again, there’s no single recipe for success. There are some general guidelines on how to combine colours from different parts of the colour wheel, and depending on your intentions, you can use complementary or analogous colours, or even go for more complex patterns in the wheel, like triangles and squares.
Every combination will evoke different feelings. Contrasting colour combinations help users focus their attention on a certain page or a certain part of the page. On the other hand, if you’re looking to induce a feeling of calmness, try going for pastel colours that are relaxing and inviting but unimposing. A great example is Sleep Junkie, which is a website that deals with sleep health and offers mattress guides, so they naturally wish to evoke a sense of peace and tranquility in their visitors.
Naturally, if we go further, to the level of individual colours, there’s even more room for play. For instance, you can use dark muted tones of blue and gray to build style and elegance, or vibrant tones of blue, yellow and pink to give your brand fun and energetic, yet cool and self-confident personality. Possibilities here are basically inexhaustible.
How Many Colours are Enough Colours?
So what about the number of colours? Should you go for the simple, smooth look or just throw in as many colours as you can to draw attention? Once more, there are no right or wrong answers. Both options can work, as well as the all in-between options. It just depends on who you want to address and appeal to. And how you combine those colours, obviously.
There’s nothing wrong with going for the colourful option and a somewhat flamboyant approach. As a matter of fact, using a lot of different colours doesn’t even necessarily mean a flashy, over-the-top design. Take a look at the Your Plan, Your Planet website, which uses a wide array of colours, but it’s still not overwhelming because of loads of whitespace that eases the tension.
On the other hand, a minimal and even monochromatic design can also do the trick. Revolve, a U.S. design agency, shows that you can create a powerful, immersive design using only black and white. Simply, your design will always be contingent on how you wish to position your brand and what kind of clientele you wish to attract.
At the end of the day, colours are the one visual element that gives your brand consistency and identity. For most corporate giants, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them is their colours.
And whichever colours you choose to represent your business, they need to be displayed consistently across all channels. In this sense, the colours you use for website design should go beyond the web. Surely, they need to attract the right audience and engage them, but these colours also need to represent your company as a whole, your values, and your mission. That way, they’ll help you leave the right impression and tell a full, well-rounded story about your brand.