How to choose colours for your website

Choosing website colours

What do different colours mean?

We all learn about the colours of the rainbow as very small children, together with that elusive pot of gold to be found at the end of the beautiful arch in the sky, but there are, in fact, many more colours than the seven listed as constituting the rainbow colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  This, of course, makes choosing the colours for a new or revamped website very difficult.

Marketing experts will tell us that different colours have different associations; red, for instance, is linked with the intensity of blood and fire and is ideal for promoting such items as financial services or cars.  The emotions it arouses range from being ready to take action, to love and trust (red roses are always in great demand around Valentine’s Day for example). 

Blue can reflect the calmness and stability of a vast sky or expanse of sea, but can also indicate conservatism or even frigidity – hence the term “the ice maiden”.

Indigo is universally associated with intuition, idealism and a structured approach, but, conversely, can be taken to suggest a more ritual-bound pattern of behaviour.  For the creative team at Indigoextra we aim to achieve a balance between intuition and a structured approach, but the concept of a ritualistic approach is totally incorrect as we take pride in identifying the customer’s needs, ethos and preferences to define a project, rather than applying a one size fits all approach!

The conclusion that you may be reaching is that there are many more different interpretations of colours than there are actual colours, which is absolutely true.  Gender, age and culture also enter the equation when it comes to how colours are perceived. Pink is generally seen as being a girlish colour and can, in some contexts, suggest a frivolous, even silly, attitude. 

Very bright, vivid colours may be regarded as being more attractive for the younger generation, whilst paler tones may appeal more to older people.  White, purple and black all have different meanings for different cultures.

Google uses four colours in its brand name and in September 2015 changed the icon 'G' to also include four different colours.  Google will have selected multiple colours simply because a search engine doesn't represent any one emotion, age range or sub-section of the population, but instead says that it represents everything!  Having multiple colours in the logo design is a statement of this.  For most sites it's best to be more selective and choose one or two dominant colours.

Where do I start with MY website?

Your website is your shop front.  The main difference when compared with a physical store is that it has the capacity to have millions of potential customers viewing what you have to offer on any one day.  As with any content marketing strategy, you need reliable information about your target market.  If you are selling chunky, outdoor clothing, you are less likely to want your primary website colours to be silver or gold.  At the same time, you want to stand out from the crowd, so you may want to have some bright colours in your logo, to differentiate it from the more staid greens and browns that may be more commonly seen for such sites.

Your choice of colours is vital; too many colours and the website will seem disjointed. Too few colours and it may give the impression of being boring.  It is worth carrying out some research on the different perceptions of colours associated with your target market.  It is a fine balance between having sufficient colour contrast to create an interesting website shop front and having colours that look incongruous with your product or service.  Your own preferences are also important.  You would probably be very uncomfortable with a website that used all your least favourite colours, though some compromise may be necessary if there are compelling reasons for using a particular colour, even in small doses.

Once you have decided on corporate colours for your logo, the next stage is to decide on the font size and type.  Determining the rest of the website (for instance, images, flash animations, text, headers, banners, call to action and navigation buttons) is covered by other blogs.  Hopefully this page has helped colour your judgement … and given you some food for thought!

What colour should my website be - infographic

The above infographic on choosing the colour scheme, fonts and other attributes for your brand is one we created for Quick Label Printers.