How to Select Colors for Websites and Marketing Content

in Content Marketing, Website Marketing

We all know that colors play an important role for making a website or other marketing content look more attractive, highlighting something for attention and generally making it more appealing to read.  While we’ve all seen good examples of how color enhances websites or marketing materials, it’s not something that you really notice to stop you in your tracks.  Good use of color just makes the experience better without being intrusive.

On the other hand, we’ve all seen bad use of color on websites and other materials that do stop us in our tracks.  Bad use of color with too many different or conflicting colors for elements such as text, lines, borders, highlights, callouts, etc. is an affront to the visual senses – the website looks too busy and you don’t know where to look for the information you want.  While the designer may have thought it would be eye-catching, it’s more a case of being eye-wrenching and tiring on the eyes.

Color is an important and necessary element of good website design.  But how many colors do you really need?  The risk of using too many colors on a website is much greater than the risk of too few. A good basic rule for selecting colors is to choose one primary color that sets the color theme for the website, a highlight color for emphasis and a text color.  A secondary color to complement the primary color can add a good visual effect if used correctly.

Choosing the right color combinations is a well defined science, not a random selection of someone’s favorite colors.  There are lots of color theory and selection resources available on the Internet.  These are common approaches for choosing a good color scheme:

Monochromatic colors
Monochromatic – choose a single color with variations in lightness and saturation. A clean, easy to view approach that sets a subtle color theme for a website.

Analogous colors
Analogous – choose a primary color plus emphasis and secondary colors adjacent on either side of the primary color.  The colors are harmonious and look richer than monochromatic.

Complementary colors
Complementary – choose two colors opposite each other on the color wheel.  This scheme offers the highest contrast and works well for a primary and highlight color approach.

Triadic colors
Triadic – choose 3 colors equally spaced on the color wheel.  This provides a balanced approach with harmonious contrast using 3 colors.

Color also portrays a perceived meaning such as blue for dependable, red for powerful, gold for expensive, yellow for happy, etc.  These perceived meanings have cultural differences too.  Consider these perceived general and cultural meanings when selecting colors to ensure that the colors selected support the message and meaning you want to communicate.

If you already have a corporate or logo color, consider using that as a starting point for selecting your approach and color scheme.

Are your website and marketing material colors off-putting or welcoming for visitors and readers?
Copyright © 2010 Ingistics LLC and Marketance™

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