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10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Website Color Scheme

Head and shoulders photograph of Milena Alexandrova
A woman talking on her phone while deciding colors to use for her site
Color has a powerful impact on users’ perception of your brand and their behavior, purchasing decisions, and overall experience. Therefore, choosing the perfect color scheme is crucial.

To choose the perfect color scheme, you need to do your research, explore different options, and try out a few combinations. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be a complicated process. If you know the basics, it can be quite fun! And if you’re using a website builder like GoDaddy or SITE123, trying out different color combinations is a snap.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing the perfect color scheme for your website. We’ll explore the factors you need to consider, what your options are, and the psychology of colors.

Let’s dive in.

1. Get Familiar With the Basics of Color Theory

Color theory is the science that studies how colors mix and interact with each other. It can help you understand what combinations work best and which ones to avoid to create a stunning website.

To grasp the basics, we need to look at the color wheel. For your website, you could choose colors that are:

  • Complementary Colors that are opposite from each other. They create a powerful contrasting combination.
  • Monochromatic These are the tones, tints, and shades of a single hue. These colors are very similar and can be used to create a subtle, classic look.
  • Analogous These are colors that are close to each other. The combination can be overpowering, so pick the main color and use the others to highlight accents.
  • Triadic This refers to three evenly spaced colors on the color wheel, creating a bold combination.
  • Tetradic This refers to four colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. This is best used when one color is dominant and the others are secondary.

Warm and cool colors are best used together rather than separately. Warm colors include yellow, orange, red, and the shades between them. Cool colors include green, blue, purple, and the colors between them.

2. Learn the Psychology Behind Colors

The psychology of colors studies how colors affect people’s feelings, behavior, and perceptions.

How we perceive colors is very personal and cultural, but here are some of the basic associations you need to be mindful of when choosing a color scheme for your website:

  • Red: Excitement, strength, love
  • Orange: Clarity, confidence, success
  • Yellow: Joy, happiness, cheerfulness
  • Green: Relaxation, health, nature
  • Blue: Calm, trust, dependability
  • Purple: Luxury, spirituality, imagination
  • Pink: Hope, kindness, comfort
  • Black: Elegance, sophistication, power
  • White: Simplicity, purity, peace
  • Gray: Neutrality, balance, stability

Additionally, warm colors can evoke feelings of coziness and comfort, but they might also be associated with a sense of urgency or aggression. Cool colors are usually associated with tranquility, serenity, and trustworthiness but might also feel distant and cold.

3. Define Your Target Audience

Your target audience should be your primary consideration when picking a color scheme. After all, you’re building a website for your visitors, so it needs to appeal to them.

Questions to consider include:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • Are they impulse buyers or budget-conscious?
  • What is the main impression you want them to have of your website?
  • What feelings would you like your website to evoke?

You can use a color quiz to get a color recommendation based on your target audience.

4. Research Your Competitors

Check what your direct competitors are doing and decide what you want to make of that information. You have two options:

  • Go with the flow See what others in your industry are doing and pick a similar color scheme. This will help you blend in.
  • Pick something totally different Go in the opposite direction and pick a niche color scheme that is unusual for your industry. This will help you stand out.

In other words, are many of your competitors using a black and white design or neutral colors, such as gray, beige, or white? Maybe that’s your chance to stand out by using intense, vibrant colors and a bold color scheme, or maybe you’d rather pick a similar color scheme to give your users a sense of familiarity.

Businesses that choose to stand out have a better chance of creating a bold, memorable brand, but this is also a somewhat riskier approach.

5. Decide on the Overall Tone of Your Website

Think about the impression you want your website to make.

For example, consider using shades of blue if you want to instill trust and dependability. Consider using black and white if you want to create an elegant site with a minimalistic design. If you want to convey that your brand is innovative, creative, and confident, you might want to try orange. If you want to be seen as bold, direct, and daring, consider using vibrant, contrasting colors.

6. Consider Your Products

If you have an online store, you need to consider your products. Do they come in a specific color? How do they look on different backgrounds? What’s your packaging like? If your website is for selling a service like photography, consider the images you’ll use to showcase your work.

Choose a color that complements your products and helps them stand out. You can achieve this by using a complementary color, or you might also consider trying out different levels of intensity and saturation.

7. Decide How Many Colors You Want

Next, you need to pick the number of different colors you’d like to use. Keep in mind that you need to select colors for your background, main images, buttons, text, and highlighted text.

The fewer colors you choose, the easier it will be to combine them, but you might be limited in the combinations you can make. On the other hand, the more colors you use, the more difficult it is to balance them. If you’re using many colors, pick your main color and use the others for specific accents or to create contrast.

8. Decide on the Main Color

Let go of bias and preferences. Choosing your main color shouldn’t be about you; it should be about your brand and your audience.

In other words, don’t choose your favorite color. Choose a color that:

  • Conveys your message well
  • Speaks to your audience
  • Nudges your visitors towards taking action
  • Works well with your products

9. Choose the Secondary Colors

For the secondary colors, you can use one opposing color and a few analogous colors for a balanced feel. Alternatively, you could use triadic or tetradic colors for a bold palette.

When picking your secondary colors, be mindful of readability and user experience. To improve readability, you need contrast. For this, complementary colors work well together, especially if one is lighter and the other is darker.

10. Test for Readability and User Experience

Once you pick your color scheme and apply it to your website, you need to test it on different devices and screens. Make sure to test for:

  • Different screen types and sizes
  • Light and dark themes of devices and browsers
  • Different brightness levels
  • Night light settings and screen dimmers

Make sure your content is always readable and all design elements are visible, even with different filters and brightness levels.

Choose a Color Scheme That Aligns With Your Goals and Audience

To pick the right color scheme for your website, you need to do your research, consider different options, and choose what’s right for your brand and your audience.

Getting to know the latest web design trends can also help you choose a palette that looks modern and fresh. Remember that you can stray from them if you use the key principles of color theory outlined above.

Head and shoulders photograph of Milena Alexandrova
As a Top10 writer, Milena Alexandrova crafts content to help people make tech-related decisions and promote their businesses. She has a master's degree in economics and social sciences from Pantheon-Sorbonne. Milena has a strong background both in marketing and as a legal and technical consultant and has contributed to services like TestGorilla, Zelt, and LeadPost.