How to Choose a Color Scheme for Your Website

8 min read
How to Choose a Color Scheme for Your Website

Every entrepreneur knows the importance of building a flawless website where every detail – be it a layout, copy, or navigation – creates a top-notch user experience. However, unlike the copy and general design, which are driven by a specific purpose, choosing a website color scheme often becomes a truly daunting task. Let’s face it, not all of us are good at color coordination. Plus, the number of existing color palettes can overwhelm even a seasoned designer. 

The common mistake most DIY website owners make is that they don’t care about color choices at all or just go with their favorite colors. A professional designer knows the importance of choosing the color scheme with regard to the brand, color psychology, product, and website purpose. In this guide, we will tell you how to choose a color scheme like a pro designer, even if you cannot afford to hire one.        

What is the website color scheme?

When we talk about the color scheme, we mean something more than just the logo or background color. The color scheme permeates throughout the whole website, bringing together all its smallest details into one perfect color palette, which forms the site’s ambiance and aesthetics. Choosing an ideal color scheme encompasses finding your signature dominant color, mixing in 1-2 complementary colors, and crowning it all with a perfect background color.  

Why is color so important for branding?

People are visuals. It means they are driven by what they see in everything they do. Buying is no exception. According to statistics, 85% of shoppers base their buying decisions on color. This is amazing! But it is even more amazing to see how big brands leverage this to their advantage. 

Most of us cannot imagine Coca-Cola in any other color than red, or McDonald’s otherwise than red and yellow. In our minds, these color schemes are deeply associated with these brand identities.

Same with ever-blue Facebook…

Facebook

… black-and-orange Amazon

Amazon

… and green and yellow iHerb.

iHerb

A distinctive color scheme makes your brand recognizable.

Color helps create a solid brand identity. If you use it right, it will increase your brand recognition by 80%. This is why famous brands never change their iconic color palettes.

Color scheme shapes snap judgments about your brand.

People need less than 90 seconds to assess your page or product on the subconscious level. 62-90% of this judgment is based on color alone. It is color psychology that defines how consumers feel about a website and whether they will ever come back. 52% of them won’t – due to poor aesthetics.

This being said, you shouldn’t just pick your website color at random. If you want to make your website pop, the color scheme requires some deep research and careful planning. Here is our comprehensive guide to the color magic.

Choosing your dominant color

The dominant color is what people remember when they think of your brand. This color helps shape the perception of a brand subconsciously through emotions. Like, for example, blue Facebook is associated with something calming, familiar, and trustworthy while fire-engine red Coca-Cola evokes the feeling of excitement, passion, and love. 

The dominant color also tells your consumers who they are when using your brand.

Your dominant color must be on your logo and all marketing materials. It must also be your primary website color. If you have not picked your dominant color yet, this is your chance to do it right.

Color psychology: how colors affect emotions             

Now make a pause and think about your ideal audience. What do these people identify themselves with?

For example, when using green as your dominant color, you connect to people who find their value in nature and health. Yellow works well for young and optimistic people (think MacDonald’s). If your target audience values luxury and power, make use of black (like Chanel). If your brand stands for creativity and imagination, try purple.

You can use colors to your advantage and attract the type of buyer you want. 

Red
Yellow
Blue
Orange
Green
Purple

Source: FastCompany

According to the infographics below, some colors can attract certain types of buyers and even impact their behavior on your website.

colors can attract certain types of buyers

Source: Neil Patel

Demographics: color preferences by age and gender

Think about people you are trying to sell to. This is especially important if your brand caters to a specific gender or age. Both men and women have distinct color preferences, which should be taken into consideration when choosing a website color scheme. Color preferences also change with age.

Most and least favorite colors

Source: Neil Patel

As you can see, both men and women like blue and green and are not too fond of brown and orange. So, if you target both genders, the color combination of blue and green is a clean shot.

Then, there are color preferences by age:    

favorite color by age group
least favorite color by age group

Source: Neil Patel

By studying these charts, you can find a very targeted and powerful brand color that is naturally geared toward your ideal audience. Thus, brand colors must be chosen based on color psychology rather than individual preferences.

Where do you use the dominant color on your website?

The general rule of thumb is that the dominant color should emphasize specific page areas, rather than be all over your website. Use it sparingly where you need to attract visitors’ attention or urge actions such as in:

  • Your logo
  • Menu tabs
  • Call-to-action and other buttons
  • Title and headlines
  • Contact/signup forms
  • Important information

Choosing accent colors

You cannot build the whole website using only the dominant color. It would be best if you mixed in a couple of accent colors to your palette to create contrast and highlight the important pieces of content such as buttons, quotes, or subtitles. (Even if you decide to go with monochromatic web design, you will still need at least seven shades of your dominant color to achieve a decent level of contrast.)

Mixing colors in a palette requires a good sense of color coordination and some knowledge in color theory. All of those nuances, tints, shades, tones, oversaturated, desaturated, cool, and warm colors are pretty exciting things to learn, but you hardly have time for it, do you?

Luckily, you can get the same benefits by using color matching tools to mix colors like a professional artist. For example, Colorspire enables you to quickly test various color combinations on your website.

Colorspire

Adobe Color CC Tool is a more advanced color mixer that helps easily build your color scheme using your pre-selected dominant color or even a photo! The middle color selector with an arrow means your dominant color, while other selectors point to accent colors that will blend well with the dominant one. After you create your color scheme, you can copy your selected colors’ HEX codes (for example, #20FCFF or #1689DB) to use them on your website.

Adobe color cc tool

If you lack tech skills and would like to avoid messing around with all those color matching tools or learning color theory basics, there is a solution. You can create your website using Boxmode, a free website builder that offers beautiful ready-made templates developed by professional designers. Whether you need a blog, portfolio, or a corporate website – the theme you chose will already feature a perfectly balanced and targeted color scheme, which, by the way, can be changed anytime using the above-mentioned HEX color codes.

Where to use accent colors on your website?

Accent colors are used to highlight less important information on a page. For example, the current menu tab, secondary buttons, and information boxes are not the main focus, but they still need some contrast to stand out.

The color ratio in a website color scheme

Now that you have chosen your dominant and accent colors, it is crucial to keep them in perfect proportions. We do not recommend using more than two accent colors because this may lead to visual clutter. One dominant color and 1-2 accent colors are enough. To keep them in perfect harmony, follow the 60-30-10 rule:

  • 60% of a dominant color
  • 30% of your main accent color, and
  • 10% of your secondary accent color.

Choosing a perfect background color

The main trick here is to pick a color that will make the page look pleasant but not boring at the same time. The color choice will depend on the purpose of a page and the emotion you want to provoke. You may want to try some bold colors for a graphics-rich website or more calming and relaxing colors for a blog.

Information/eCommerce websites

Content-rich websites aimed to promote products or ideas rather than the website design itself need a neutral background to help content pop. 

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon uses a white background combined with the contrasting accent colors black, dark grey, and orange.

Same with BBC: signature black logo accompanied with red accent colors against the white background.

Such bright accents help create the personality of a website. At the same time, a calm white background keeps visitors focused on products or content.

BBC

BBC

Business websites

1. Brand-focused websites can use their dominant color in the background to help build brand identity and improve brand recognition. If your dominant color is too bright for the backdrop, consider picking its less intense shade using one of the color matching tools we suggested.   

Pepsi

Pepsi

2. Service-focused websites should be more careful with their background color as it shouldn’t distract visitors from the key message of the page – your services or portfolio. Keep your background color neutral, and your message will shine against it.

MyClean

MyClean 

Creative and design-centric websites

Creative industries such as restaurant, fashion, beauty, or design, which focus on style and emotions rather than content, can go with literally any background color and even use fancy animations or videos as long as textual content remains legible.

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret

Idole

Idole

DDNA

DDNA

Mugs

Mugs

Koniku

Koniku

Summing it up, the perfect background color must keep your main message in focus while matching your dominant and accent colors and making your visitors feel comfortable.

Final tips and takeaways

An ideal website color scheme is the one that reflects your brand’s values and is appealing to your target audience. The right way to choose a website color scheme is by accounting for your audience demographics and color psychology rather than the gut feeling.

Keep it simple. The fewer colors you use, the more unified your website looks, and the easier it is for visitors to understand your message.

Contrast ensures impact. Emphasize important details by making them pop against the rest of the page.

You do not have to be an artist or designer to create a powerful, eye-catching website color scheme. With our tips and a little experimentation, you will be able to come up with a killer color palette.