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How to Select the Best Color Schemes for Your Site

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Website design involves many factors — one major one being color selection. This is important for your brand and for the overall success of your site. Wondering where to start? We got you. Check out our Iron Insights on how to choose the best color combinations for websites.

Use tried-and-true color theory rules.

I try to limit color schemes to three colors. Usually, I have a primary color, an accent color and a neutral. I’ve found that anything more than that can be hard to balance.

When creating color schemes, I use simple color theory rules to choose colors. I’ll use a color wheel to quickly see which colors are analagous (next to) or complementary (across from) whatever primary color I’ve chosen. For example, if I was using blue, I could pair it with purple or green (analagous) or orange, red or yellow (complementary). From there I will try to find pairings that don’t vibrate on screen — that can happen when two colors that are very saturated are placed side by side and appear to vibrate.

One of the tools I sometimes use to choose a color scheme is coolors.co. You can either explore schemes other people have created, search by themes, or create your own. I’ll usually set my main color and scroll through suggested combinations until I land on something that is visually pleasing.

– Sylvia Foerster, Creative Director

Let your brand be your guide.

As a general rule it’s best to let your logo and/or preset branding colors determine what colors should be on your website. For example, if you have a predominantly blue logo then I’d recommend using blue as your primary color and a complementary color/tone, such as green, to make the site consistent with your branding/voice.

However, if you want colors that really pop then I’d recommend pairing blue with yellow or orange (it’s complementary colors on the color wheel).

– Anika Mercier, Project Manager

Make sure your colors give the right impression.

Color is truly an art form when it comes to websites and businesses in general. There have been studies performed that tell us what types of businesses perform best using specific colors.

I would start by determining what your business does, how it fits in the world around it, and what perceptions you want people to have about your business. Using existing studies, I would best determine what colors make the best fit. I would then test a variety of hues within that color against a range of secondary colors to find the best fit for my business. I’d maybe look for a third color, but only if I absolutely needed it.

– Brandon Vreeman, Front End Developer

Use colors that serve your end goals.

Start with a dominant color. Find a color that best represents what your company stands for. Now you can find complementary colors to create your color scheme. Lastly, choose a background color and apply the complementary colors in different places on your website. Keep in mind that understanding color psychology can help reflect the feelings you want to evoke from your customers!

– Alexis Bignotti, Marketing Assistant

Get a second opinion or two.

Choosing color combinations is crucial. Color affects emotion. What do you want your customers to “feel” about your website? Who are your customers? What are you selling? Choose your primary color first, based on your customers and what you’re selling. Additional colors can be complementary-opposite each other on the color wheel, or similar-next to each other on the wheel. Prepare 3-4 different schemes and view them side-by-side. Have others view them too. Narrow it down and choose the one that’s just right for your business!

– Mary Ann Jacobsen, Human Resources

Make sure your color scheme is user-friendly.

Pick three friendly colors that are easy on the eyes. Sites with black backgrounds with red text are painful to the eye. Because color expresses emotion, marketers often use hues of color like: blues for healthcare, greens for banking, yellow for food, and red for sports.

– Lori Malcolm, Content Writer

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