Color has always played a vital role when creating both effective and visually pleasing web designs. But never more so than today. As we discuss below, changes in technology as well as the sheer number of websites competing for attention has changed color use considerably in recent years. Colors are not only used to convey sentiment and send subtle, or not so subtle, messages. Today, color usage is a way to compete.
Choosing a Color Palette
Color selection is one of the most important aspects of web design. Choose the wrong color(s) and your website (the face of your business online) will send the wrong message to viewers.
For example, red draws attention, provokes passion and action - or warns one to STOP. In web design, red is most often used as an accent color, to draw attention to an important design element.
Blue on the other hand, especially deeper hues of blue, calms and instills feelings of comfort and security. Blue finds its way into many a web design for the medical profession, or wherever a warm and solid handshake is a business’ calling card.
Understanding the messages color sends is important, but knowing how to use color effectively is what separates a beautiful website from a well designed website. While passion and action or comfort and security may be values every business wishes to convey to their audience, in many cases, other ideas such as analytical, edgy, innovative, agile or professional may be the dominant qualities visitors are looking to find in a business.
The values a business wishes to project and the relative importance of each can be represented by a palette of primary, secondary and accent colors.
Technology and Color
Technology influences the choice and use of color online. In the early years of the Internet, technology limited colors to basic blues, reds and greens. More recently, technology has facilitated the expanding use of color online.
Computers: Large monitors and more memory mean lots of viewable real estate as well as several applications and browser windows open at the same time. Unique colors standout within a crowded desktop environment.
Screens: The range of colors in use has also exploded, as computer screens obtain ever higher resolution. Even very subtle differences in color hues are recognizably different.
Devices: The proliferation of devices used to access the web has forced innovation in the use of color palettes to ensure optimal display on both small and large screens.
Competition In Color
The more blue websites, the harder it is for a blue website to standout. This remains true no matter the hue. As competition to stand out in an sophisticated and crowded online space increases, color palettes that would have been considered avantgarde a few years ago, are now fairly common.
In addition, the web has broken down many barriers, not only between people, but also between businesses and people, businesses and other businesses, and entire industries. It’s not so important any more for the serious to always be serious. Even the serious can let their guard down from time to time and choose a lighthearted color palette.
Consequently, it’s not uncommon to see conservative websites getting liberal with color, as if to say, “See, we’re not that serious.”
Lighthearted color palettes for serious brands, force lighthearted brands to adopt libertine color palettes. And so it goes on. Fearless use of color, once seen as a growing trend, is quickly becoming the norm.