Monday, December 22, 2008

Color Theory in Web Design

Users form instant opinions upon visiting a Web Site. First impressions are generated visually, before they ever read a word of the content that you have worked so hard on/paid a professional many dollars for. The first thing visitors notice is color. The use of colors in your Web Site conveys subconscious feelings and emotions to a visitor. Businesses spend a lot of time and money getting the colors just right for their marketing and promotions. The McDonalds arch is not yellow and red by chance. Just as it is necessary to get color right for logos, promotions, and other materials, it is essential that a Web Site is created with the proper color scheme.

WebDesign.org offers a short list of colors and emotions that they are commonly associated with:

RED - Love, strength, sense of power, energy, excitement, danger, leadership
ORANGE - Comfort, friendliness, confidence, courage, steadfastness, playfulness, cheerfulness
YELLOW - Curiosity, intelligence, brightness, amusement, caution, joy, organization
GREEN - Harmony, nature, healing, life, food, health, money
BLUE - Patience, love, peace, tranquility, trustworthiness, stability, acceptance
PURPLE - Wisdom, independence, nobility, ambition, dignity, luxury, royalty
BROWN - Earthiness, nature, durability, tribal, comfort, reliability, primitive
BLACK - Elegance, sophistication, health, dramatic, power, formality, style
WHITE - Goodness, easy, simplicity, cleanliness, purity, fresh, innocence

Deciding on a color scheme for a Web Site can be a frustrating ordeal for many designers, and it often is harder than it sounds. There are even entire programs dedicated to color scheming. One rule of thumb when choosing a color scheme is to select harmonious colors. Some people will get all mavericky and decide that rules were made to be broken, but you will find that most of the time non-harmonious colors clash in a way that isn’t pleasing from the user’s point of view. Bad color schemes aren’t exactly a signal to immediately leave a Web Site, but it means that you as the designer will have to work harder to keep the consumer’s interest.

The bottom line is that color schemes can affect your bottom line. With commercial web sites, it is important to conform to an image that is consistent with the brand and what it offers the consumer. Color, font, tone, graphics – all of these send a message to the consumer about the brand. When deciding on a color scheme, know your target market and know your brand. If the colors fit, wear them.

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