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Color theory in web design

Color theory in web design

Few Quick Words about Color Theory

“The best color in the world is the one that looks good on you.” Once said by Coco Chanel. Same is applicable for Web Design as well. Scientific studies have proven that different colors stimulates different feelings in you, and hence web designers should be very particular when it comes to use of colors in design. Looking at certain color can make you feel a certain way, and this ability of colors manipulating our emotions is at the heart of color theory in web design.

Significance of Color Theory in Web Designing

Web pages are certainly one of the effective communication tools between a web user and web producer or designer. As the strangers meet for the first time and share their first impressions, the web producer and the website visitor share their impressions and communicate through a web. For the same reason, it is important to select an appropriate design and color for a web designer to make the website more appealing to the visitor, thereby ensuring high level of online success and effective landing pages.

Emotional Impact of each color

Every individual color has a different emotional impact, it’s own unique properties and signals. Colors are divided into warm colors ( red, yellow, orange), cool colors (blue, green, violet), and neutral colors (black, white, gray). Warm colors are stimulating and energetic while cool colors gives feeling of calmness and stability. Neutral colors too have their own impact on audience. Black is a heavy color and is mostly resembled with strength, power and authority. White is symbol of purity, calmness and cleanliness.


Red is a color of power, strength, warmth, energy. It is the most stimulating color
and used to catch attention and raise alarm. Because of its stimulating and energetic nature it is ill-advised for sites striving for relaxed feel.

War ChildOrange

Since orange is a combination of red and yellow it posses properties of both red and yellow up to certain degree. Orange color symbolizes energy, fun, warmth and passion. It is commonly used to show playfulness and joyfulness.


Yellow is a color of wealth, energy, and playfulness. Impact of yellow varies with its vibrancy. Bright yellow is very stimulating, middle shades and are more welcoming and pleasant, while darker shades such as gold gives effect of antiquity and timelessness.


Being in the center of spectrum green is a pleasing mix of energy and relaxation. Green is a color of harmony, balance, refreshment, and positive growth, in western culture green color represents wealth, money and environmental themes.



Blue is a color of mind and is essentially soothing. Light shades of blue are friendly, inviting and safe. Darker shades are still calming but tends to be more somber and reliable than light blue. Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter both takes advantage of welcoming light blue color. On the other hand, dark shades are favored by professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to represent high level of integrity and professionalism.



Purple is a color of royalty. It conjures combined calm stability of blue and the stimulating nature of red. Darker shades of purple exudes sensations of luxury, decadence while the lighter shades represents love and romance.



Black color has been recognised the strongest of all and thus for the same reason it is widely being used for text in most of the cases. It also complements other colors with lighter shades to set elements apart, but by its own it gives feeling of power and sophistication.



White is a primary color. It gives off an air of cleanliness, purity and virtue. White plays a supporting color role in many cases. Free space is a vital aspect in designing any UI. Sites like Google has used white space very cleverly which gives a feel of neat and cleanliness.


Introduction to color wheel

Color wheel or color circle is a visual representation of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors according to their chromatic relationship around a circle. In the illustrative model, primary colors are placed on the corner of equilateral triangle on the color wheel, then create a bridge between primaries using secondary and tertiary colors. Secondary colors are the mixture of two primary colors eg. Orange is a mixture of red and yellow, purple is a mixture of blue and red and green is a mixture of yellow and blue.


Art of combining colors and color schemes

There has been proven scientific connection between color of products and urge to purchase behind them. Everytime when you see a color, a chain of reactions takes place within hypothalamus in your brain. Studies have proven that 62% to 90% of purchase decisions are made on choice of colors. Understanding how to combine colors is as important as understanding colors on their own. Going deeper into the psychology of colors can significantly improve remembrance of your product or website.

The color wheel or color circle is the most pioneer tool to combine colors. First color wheel was drawn by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. Colors can interact with each other predictably on a color wheel, which results in formation of various color schemes. Experimenting with colors can give tremendous payoffs for an artistic designer. Most of the websites follows common color schemes or at least common structure for color schemes. The popular structures for creating colors schemes have emerged as follows.


Monochromatic Color Scheme

Monochromatic color scheme uses only one dominant base hue and extended shades, tones and tints of the same color. Monochromatic color schemes looks eye pleasing and intensify the emotional responses of the involved color. Apart from aesthetic advantages of monochromatic color scheme, there are few composition drawbacks associated with it such as setting certain elements apart in visual designs.

Monochromatic color schemes are commonly used for minimalistic designs. Impact of using monochromatic color scheme enhances content resulting into even simplest of typefaces appear prominent and bold. Minimalistic designs and monochromatic color schemes gels into each other very well, both emphasizes a theme of elegance and less distracting user interface.

Websites using monochromatic color scheme


Analogous color scheme

Analogous colors are group of colors which are next to each other on a color wheel. Unlike true complementary colors analogous colors are not very vibrant and complementary to each other. However, they still manage to grab attention of reader by creating more attractive and eye pleasing user experience. Analogous themes provides more diversity than monochromatic themes.

Analogous color schemes creates more calming and harmonious look and feel. Designers creating web designs with analogous color schemes often tends to choose one color to be the most prominent. Prominent color’s emotional attachment with the product must be the most powerful, and overshadow the other colors. Second color is commonly used to create differentiation in certain elements or typeface. If third color is used then it must be used for accenting only.

Websites using analogous color scheme


Complementary color scheme

Colors opposite to each other on color wheel complements each other, resulting into complementary color scheme. Complementary colors creates dynamic and emotionally stimulating user experience. Distinctive feature of opposite colors has been identified as one of the foremost advantage of this color scheme. However, the color scheme is not recommended for websites portraying a feel of relaxation.

In complementary color scheme, the color scheme is just like analogous color scheme, one color is dominant while another secondary. Dominant color takes advantage of emotional relevance with the product to set the tone.

Websites using complementary color scheme


Triadic color scheme

Triadic color scheme is the safest of all. It represents a combination of three perfectly balanced colors joined by an equilateral triangle on the color wheel. It is more diverse than mono color or two colored color schemes. Triadic is the most basic color scheme with three or more colors. Many designers consider this to be the best color scheme, although it majorly depends on the scope of project and its purpose to serve. Triadic scheme is an excellent option for sites with vast range of users, as its safety makes it crowd pleaser.

Websites using triadic color scheme


Split complementary color scheme

Split complementary color scheme is a variation of complementary color scheme with advance attention drawing power of the basic complementary scheme. This creates the more grounded user experience with a strong visual contrast same as complementary color scheme. Use of third color opens up lot many new design options for the designers.

You can see many websites tending to opt for split complementary theme. Most commonly is a site using black and white with the third color used for highlighting an individual element (usually an eye catching green or red).

Websites using split complementary color scheme


Rectangular Tetradic (Compound Complementary) color scheme

It is known to be as complicated color scheme with two complementary pairs of colors forms a rectangular tetradic color scheme. Despite of four complementary colors, it appears to be grounded and more stable, and at the same time it allows to play with four different main colors. This color scheme works best if you let one color to be dominant and find the proper balance between the remaining three colors. You also need to take care of balance between warm colors and cool colors.

Websites using rectangular tetradic color scheme


Square color scheme

The square color scheme is very much similar to rectangular color scheme, but the colors in square color scheme are spaced evenly all around the colorwheel. To use this color scheme upto its optimum potential, designer must make one color dominant and find the balance between remaining three colors. Warm color and cool color balance is the key element in square color scheme.

Websites with diversity of users and serving different purposes in one place are advised to use square color scheme.

Websites using square color scheme

Color assistance tools

Color theory is very vast with lot of depth, and even covering basics of color theory need to digest so much at once. Making color combination or color palette is quit difficult task and to help you out with that there are multiple tools available in the market. Following is a list of tools which can aid you in your use of colors.!/?view.left=0&view.right=0

Thus, concludes our article on color theory in web design. Very soon We will come up with more articles on color theory in web design. You are welcome to share your views as comments to this blog. Visit our blog page for the latest on all things tech.