This article provides tips on how to choose color schemes for web pages and web sites. You will also find hundreds of color combinations for free download and use – please click that link. The aim is to help web developers and designers to create an attractive web presence.
Color is subjective. What appeals to you might be a catastrophe to me! That said, there are some basic things one needs to know when using colors on the web.
There was once a time when monitors and web browser programs could display only a limited number of colors. These colors formed what came to be known as a web safe palette. Web safe color schemes contain colors only from this set. However, nowadays you don’t need to pay any attention to this and can choose any color scheme for your web site.
Different monitors would probably have different settings which is why a color may not look the same. For example, the brightness and contrast of my laptop screen is different from that of my desktop. Furthermore, as monitors age, their levels of brightness might decrease – the screen of my old IBM Thinkpad is in quite a sorry state. Also, monitors may have different Gamma calibrations which would change how a color appears on the screen.
Primarily, the content of your web site should dictate the color schemes you want to use on the site. For example, psychologists believe that using red on a financial site is a certain no-no. Similarly, a web site that portrays dependability and trustworthiness should avoid the use of primary colors (bright blue, green red, yellow, pink…) – sobered blue and brown hues are more suited for such web sites.
A light background color (preferably white, very light shade of gray or pale yellow) is ideal when the text is in a dark color (black). This creates a good contrast and is easy on the eyes; especially true if the web site has lots of textual content. You can also use the reverse color scheme – a dark background color with a light color for text, and this may be a good bet for the online store of a devil worshipers’ web site (seriously!). Coming back to the above point, you need to pay close attention to your web site content because it shall determine what color scheme you should use.
The best way to choose a color scheme for a web site is to look at your logo, if you have one. The colors in your site design should complement those in the logo. You can also use contrasting colors that help the logo standout but if not done properly might lend an amateurish feel to the web site.
The colors of the different sections of the site should harmonise. If not, it creates a very blocky effect and can be a major eyesore. When working with colors you need to create a balance – make the web page a single identity rather than segregating it (visually) with different colors.
Firstly, avoid excessive use of images and graphics. Visitors come to your web site looking for information and not to admire your beautiful creation. There are, however, many exceptions to this. Web sites of artists or fashion designers need to be highly appealing. But remember, images slow down web pages and are of zero value when it comes to search engines. One can always find ways to decrease the image usage on web sites by taking advantage of CSS. Use images only when required and only when they jell into the content. Also, select images whose colors complement those in your site design else the image would standout which, in many cases, serves no purpose.
Ed Krol's book, "The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog", was probably the first popular book about the new medium. It was published in 1992 and selected by the New York Public Library as one of the most significant books of the 20th century. [more...]