Color and Web Design – How to Make It All Work Together
As humans we see and interpret color using the visible spectrum. The colors we see are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. They are all made up of various wavelengths (measured in nanometers) and are really, really small. In fact, there are tons more colors but as humans we visually can see them with our naked eyes. We can use tools to see things in the visual range of say, infrared.
There are additive colors and subtractive colors. Additive colors are used with television or computer screens. So, when you add the primary colors red, blue and green together on a screen you will get white. Subtractive colors are used when printing. So, when you add the primary colors together you get black.
I am sure almost everyone has seen a color wheel. The color wheel shows you the relationships between each of the colors. Such as when a color is next to one an other this is called analogous colors. An example would be with red, orange and yellow. These colors make up an analogous color scheme. It is very popular because it also readily found in nature.
When two colors are opposite each other on the color wheel we call these complementary colors. A great example is red and green, another popular choice during Christmas. Those are some of the basics, there is a lot more to learn such as hues, contrast, saturation etc. But, we can go into that another time. Next we need to take this information we just learned and see how color is tied into our emotion.
Color effects how we perceive the world around us. It can affect our emotional and physical responses to visual stimuli, and can even govern how we interpret these stimuli. This is why color is so important in fields of graphic and environmental design, and why graphic designers, interior designers, and architects go to such great lengths to understand the influence of color and to use it in just the right way.
Until recently, though, very little emphasis has been placed on the importance and overall influence of color in the field of web design. In fact, there still seems to be overall a kind of ‘anything goes’ atmosphere on the Internet with regard to web design in general.
But the way in which we access the Internet, combined with its increasing impact on our everyday lives, now requires a more thorough understanding of the influence of color for designers who wish to create websites that effectively attract and positively influence visitors to them.
The use of color is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal in designing a website, or any other medium with which you are attempting to relate to or communicate with other people. Color is so powerful that it can persuade, motivate and inspire when it is used in a balanced and effective way, and so crucial that it can completely drive people away when its overall influence is poorly understood and it is used poorly or inefficiently. In short, color is far more complex than many of us give it credit for.
The best way to use color is to experiment and observe. Test color combinations out and see how they make you feel. Chances are that if you feel a certain way when you see colors others do also. But, there are some fundamentals that can help any designer.
Nature is your best bet when finding good color combinations. Take the example of a small wood house on a prairie with a nice clear blue sky. A prairie is golden and the sky being blue will give you a good complementary color scheme, blue and gold are opposite on the color wheel. The blue/gold combination is usually has a very calming effect. It can also be a symbol for regal or royalty.
Sometimes you want your colors to POP. So, using high contrasting colors are really good for that. Ever wonder why road signs are in that bright yellow with black type? It is one of the easiest color combinations to read. Plus it makes you take notice. We have been conditioned by the highway people, that bright yellow and black stands out and we automatically take notice.
Some color examples and their general meanings.
– White is considered as the color of purity, honesty and innocence.
– Black is the color of death also represents darkness, gloom and despair. However, when used properly is can also indicate elegance and refinement.
– Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It represents depth, trust, security and imagination.
– Green is a color in nature. It represents life, vibrancy, natural, active, fresh and young.
– Yellow is for philosophers and thinkers. It represents hope and maturity.
– Red is a color of action and danger. It excites and stimulates the viewer.
I could go on but I think you get the point that each color represents feelings and emotions. As a designer your job is to pull those emotions out from the viewer and either gets them really comfortable so they stay along time. Or exited so they feel they must have your product now!
Color dramatically effects your customer so that means it affects your marketing, your web site and your income. If used badly it can make potential customers leave your site quickly. If used well, color can help bring in more money.
So, how are you using color on your site?