What Color Scheme Should I Use?

June 18, 2019



One of the first and most important questions you should ask when making any graphic design is what type of colors you will be using. This is doubly true for a website. Your color palette can be crucial in making countless design choices, and by keeping a consistent color usage, you can build an interesting website that can evoke different emotions in viewers and even build your credibility. This can be tricky to accomplish, which is why we’re laying out some of the things you should consider when deciding the colors that fit best for your branding and website.

Step 1: Audience Consideration

As with any other aspect of your business, your audience is your driving force. When designing your logo and other branding images, you should always keep your audience in mind. But how does your audience relate to your color scheme? The answer lies in your relationship with your audience and the type of business you’re running. Your identity as a company likely includes your mission statement, your goals as a business, and the industry in which you work in. Over the course of time, humans have begun to associate various colors with different ideas and moods. For instance, grocers and other industries that work in nature lean heavily towards green colors. Healthcare usually sticks with either red or blue, engineering is oftentimes black or red, and so forth. By analyzing exactly what type of industry you work in, you can start to understand your audience’s expectations. If your company works for men’s clothing, and you expect a heavy volume of male customers, maybe pink isn’t the right decision for your color scheme.

In addition to the industry and audience expectations, you want to think about your audience’s mood when they visit your page. If you’re trying to evoke interest and excitement in your audience, which you likely should if you are trying to make a sale from them, then you want to keep your color scheme brighter and more interesting. If your customer visits your page and sees a dull backdrop, they’ll be unlikely to be excited by your company, and you may lose out on a sale due to the drab design of your site. To avoid this, try to choose brighter colors when possible. Don’t go too far with this, though! It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of picking a wild assortment of pastel colors, which can be hard to look at. Once again, this will make a customer uninterested in your site.

Step 2: Pick a Dominant Color

So, you’ve considered all your audience, your industry, and the exact mood you want viewers to feel when they visit your site. Hopefully you’re already starting to see the vision of your color scheme in your head, but now, we can start to refine this. Perhaps the most important step you should take now is to choose one color to make the primary focus of your color scheme. We mentioned earlier the idea of a men’s clothing business, so let’s continue with this example now. If I were running a male apparel line, then I want my website to make my main audience of men feel at ease, while still drawing them in somehow. Going off of societal trends and expectations, blue sticks out as a rather clear favorite for my main color focus, so I’ll go with a blue. But blue is a very broad term, and the brightness and saturation can have a huge impact too. A dark blue might be more calming, whereas a bright blue can be seen as either sweet, childish, or natural. And then there’s different shades to consider, like whether I want the blue to be closer to green, purple, or pure blue. Color choice can quickly become a difficult endeavor, so it always pays to think like a customer. In this scenario, I think I’ll go with a more royal blue, but tone it darker in order to create a masculine yet calm effect for the majority of my site.

Step 3: Harmonic Colors

Now that we have a primary color selected, we can now focus on choosing a few more colors that will complement the look well. An extremely useful tool for this is the color wheel. This is something you’ve probably seen in art classes back in grade school. However, its usefulness is actually far beyond a simple elementary drawing. The color wheel makes it extremely easy to visualize your color scheme while you’re planning out your design.

There are a few different types of color harmonies that work particularly well with a color wheel, and I will explain them with descriptions to help.

Complimentary:  Complimentary colors are found on opposite sides of the color wheel from one another. Since I chose a darker blue for my main color, I could consider an orange as my compliment, and since they are opposites in terms of warmth and brightness, they would look visually appealing on a web page.

Monochromatic: A monochromatic color scheme is any that includes one color heavily, and the rest of the scheme is composed of various shades of your dominant color, mixed in with some greys. Grey is a very neutral color, and will look appealing with nearly any color on the color wheel. The various shades of your dominant color will help to add some variety to your look while also making sure to stay consistent with your themes.

Analogous: When working with any color of the rainbow, you will be able to manipulate the shades and component colors in order to create slight variations of color. For example, the blue I chose can be turned slightly more green or slightly more purple by adding in some yellow or red. This creates a new shade of blue that will actually create a nice compliment to my dominant shade, which is why analogous color schemes are growing in popularity.

Knowing that these types of color schemes exist is really helpful when deciding what colors will look good with your dominant color. Oftentimes when staring at a pallet of colors, the variety of choices can seem overwhelming. Luckily, we have the color wheel, which provides an extremely useful guideline for building your color scheme. The three strategies listed above are common and oftentimes successful, but there are many more ways that the color wheel can be manipulated to find the scheme that fits your brand best. We highly recommend the website https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator/, which helps you to pick a starting color and then experiment with various strategies on the color wheel. For our example men’s clothing brand, I think a professional monochromatic look will go over best.

With these 3 steps in mind, you should be able to get started with your graphic design project and choose a color scheme that looks visually appealing while also interesting your specific audience and provoking the desired mood in them. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to us here at Digifox Studios. We always offer development help and advice to our visitors free of charge, and can help you to really nail down your color pallet as you start to build your modern online brand.

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