Articles for Webmasters     Tips for Choosing an Appropriate Color Scheme for a Website

There is a virtual representation for nearly everything and e-commerce is no longer a luxury.  In the very near future malls and department stores may become a thing of the past and at one point or another it is assumed that most people will design or have a hand in designing a website.  Building a website can be fun, entertaining, and complicated.  Choosing the color palette is the one aspect that most people tend to think is the simplest.  It is actually the most important.  The color scheme is the very first thing that people will notice.  If it is not appropriate then it will make it impossible to reach the ultimate goal of reaching the maximum visitors.  It does not matter why a website is built, if it does not make the viewer want to explore further than the index page then it is not doing its job.

It is a proven fact that color can influence buying strategies, change moods, and can predict behavior.  For instance, the color green makes people think of money, the environment, and growth.  The color red has varying effects dependent on the way that it is presented.  And those are just the true colors.  That does not even take into account the different shades and variants of each color.  Choosing the right color scheme for your website can be fun, frustrating and time consuming but is not something that should be done only with aesthetics in mind.  

The purposes for having websites are many and varied.  For example, some may want to sell their products online as an extension of their current business, while others wish to have a memorial website dedicated to the life of a loved one who has passed.  The goal of the website is an integral part of the color selection process.  Some things are common sense and can help narrow the field of choices.  For example you would normally not see the color yellow as a background color for a death metal band marketing page.

Red is a very bold color.  It can relate many things to visitors and carries a distinct message.  Power, strength, heat, and energy are all adjectives that describe the color red.  

Yellow is the color of sunshine, summer days, and smiles.  On the other side of the spectrum, yellow has been associated with cowards, agitation, and urine.  It is a very memorable color and is associated with a myriad of responses.  Be very careful when using the color yellow.

Blue represents truth, dignity, solidity, and trust.  Banks often use this color to convey security.  The color blue can also represent serenity and calm.  Many websites use this color in the background at some point or another because it creates a welcoming feel and encourages visitors to remain on the pages.

Green is a color that tends to show prosperity, growth, advancement, and environmental issues.  It, like blue, can also be used to allay fears, worry and stress.  

Black is one of the most popular colors chosen for backgrounds on websites.  It can represent strength, it is not jarring to the eye, and is easy to match with any other color.  But the color black is also used as a symbol of death.  Use caution and do not overwhelm site browsers with a depressing theme.

The list of color associations is endless, but the information is readily available.  Here are a few tips that can make the color selection process a bit easier:

  1. The best place to start is with a set of colors that are preferred.  The good thing is that within each color set there is normally a shade that can be incorporated to illicit the desired result.  
  2. Once the colors have been chosen, look at them, see what types of emotions they illicit, gauge how long it takes to bring out that response, and determine whether the color is appropriate to the theme of the website.
  3. Open Photoshop or another graphics editing program and navigate to the color palette.  Find the chosen color and then locate those that are in close proximity and exactly opposite of it on the color wheel.  This will automatically give you the contrasting color for small details.
  4. Do not get discouraged.  Even the most seasoned website designers take a bit of time in choosing the color palette and become just as frustrated.
Building a website is an entertaining, lucrative activity that many people will participate in at one point in their lives.  Look at the businesses that are successful today.  What types of colors did they choose for their businesses?  What makes them stand out?  There are so many choices to make during the design process and each one takes careful consideration.  Color enriches, encourages, and can also dissuade.  The best advice is to keep it simple.  Find what works and stick to it.

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