What Color Should I Choose For My Website?
When you begin the process of working with a web developer to build a new site, one of the first things that you’ll be asked to decide on is the color scheme. Maybe this decision has already been made for you: your business may have an established logo with a color scheme that determines the colors that will be used on your site. If you work for a large company there may even be a style guide that dictates the colors and color combinations that can be used in marketing materials.
Maybe, however, you work for or own a small business that hasn’t yet established the colors it uses for branding. You might not even have a logo yet – you may be choosing the colors to represent your business from scratch. If that’s the case, how do you decide where to start when it comes to colors? Let’s start by discussing a few places not to start.
Now, as with anything, there are exceptions to this. There is nothing wrong with choosing business colors that are appealing to you – it’s your business, you ought to like the colors! If your favorite colors happen to work well with your business’s marketing, then by all means use them! Don’t, however, fall into the trap of choosing logo/website colors solely based on your preference of colors. Color choice is a very individual thing, and you want to make certain that your marketing tools are going to be appealing to as much of your target audience as possible. If your favorite color is purple, then deck out your house in floor to ceiling purple, buy a purple car, wear a purple hat – but making your law firm’s website purple may not be your best option.
Of course, if your business is on the artsier side – a nail salon or a coffee shop, for example – you can take a lot more liberties with color. If no one is going to expect your site to be button-down professional then you’ve got more freedom. Keep in mind, though, that even a site that conveys a free-spirited business venture should be visually appealing to as much of your target audience as possible.
If you’re interested in delving into the psychology of colors, a Google search or two will lead you to a plethora of articles, studies and charts linking color to emotions and consumer habits. If you want to do your homework and start with colors that are thought to encourage the particular feelings that you’d most like a potential customer to associate with your company, research away – you’ll find plenty of ideas and theories.
Another thing to remember is that colors used in print don’t always translate well to a screen. You may have more experience designing marketing materials for brochures or magazine ads, and some of that experience may be extremely helpful, but the same principles are not always applicable.
Colors also aren’t as static in web design – if you look at the same website on three different screens the color may appear to be three different shades. When you print a brochure you can be confident that the brochure will look the same to every potential customer that looks at it, but someone using an old laptop is going to see your site’s colors differently than someone using an iPad with a retina display.
Color preference is extremely subjective, but one factor that you always need to keep in mind is usability. Certain colors or color combinations can be hard on the eyes, or make your site difficult to see/read. These are issues that will cause many users to leave your site immediately, so you want to make absolutely certain to avoid them.
Finally, if your graphic designer or web developer discourages you from using a particular color or combination of colors, you may want to take her advice to heart. Professional designers and graphic artists are generally well practiced in seeing color outside of the scope of their own personal preference, so if they tell you that your color scheme isn’t going to work, it isn’t just because it wouldn’t be what she would choose for herself. If she feels that the colors make the site hard to read or look at, or simply aren’t going to be appealing to very many people, she will try to guide you to something that will better serve your business.
The bottom line? Color preferences are personal, but the design of your website generally shouldn’t be. While you want to end up with a website that you like, try to step outside of your personal preferences – doing so may help you to create a website that performs to its fullest potential as a business tool that will appeal widely to your target audience.