As with all of your promotional material, the colours you choose for your website say a lot about you and your business. They can give your site’s visitors an instant impression about what you do, how professional you are, and even your values. People’s attention spans are extremely short on the Web so it’s vital to make a good impression right off the bat.
Think really hard about the image you want to convey to your audience. What’s the best way to present that image to them? Using the right colours can go a long way in this regard.
For instance, if you are promoting educational programs to children then, you’ll likely want to utilize bright, lively colours, and lots of them. Pretty much the full spectrum would probably work in this case.
Or, say your target audience is teen girls. You’d probably want to use soft tones, like pinks. For teen boys you’d likely need to use more of the “cool and hip” colours like black with red, for example.
If you are a healing professional, you obviously want to show that you are qualified and that you offer a caring, and perhaps, soothing environment. You’ll likely want to use soft, earth tones.
If your business is selling natural products, the colours you use should match your products or general theme. You usually can’t go too far wrong using some shade(s) of green, but try not to be too cliché!
For a more corporate look, dark colours – navy blue, forest green, dark brown, etc. – generally work well with a fairly extensive use of black and white.
If your business has a logo (or specific image/photo that you like to use), naturally, the colours on your website shouldn’t clash with it. You can usually find colours that match your logo and give the overall impression you’re going for. In fact you probably chose your logo with the idea of what sort of impression its colours would portray.
Another important factor to consider when choosing colours is which combinations work and which don’t. Although there might be occasion to purposefully mismatch colours to make a certain statement, on the whole you want to create a sense of harmony with the colours you choose for your site. Without getting too much into the depths of colour theory, let’s just touch on two main ideas.
First is the concept of analogous colours. Essentially, these are colours that are close to each other in the spectrum. If you were to imagine a circle of all the colours of the rainbow, analogous colours are the ones that would be next to each other. A simple example would be purple – its analogous colours are red and blue.
The second concept is complementary colours. These are basically opposite each other on the colour circle. Examples are red and green; purple and yellow; blue and orange. While some people might think these combinations would clash, as long as you use the right shades, they actually complement each other. The contrast is certainly there, but the combination also creates a sense of stability.
One last thing to keep in mind: colours can look different on different monitors. So, while you may think you’ve found the “perfect” green for a certain effect, on someone else’s screen it may not look the same as it does on yours. Don’t sweat it too much, though. Short of calibrating everyone’s monitors, there’s not much you can do about it. Be satisfied that your green (and other colours) will be close enough!
Following is a list of colours and what sort of effect they have on people (with possible negative connotations, in parentheses):
Red: stimulating, passion, love (danger)
Orange: warmth, playfulness
Yellow: hope, happiness, activity (cowardice)
Green: healing, nature, freshness, money
Blue: peace, power, truth (sadness)
Purple: royalty, intelligence, spirituality
Brown: earthiness, reliability, dependability
Black: sophistication, elegance, strength (evil)
White: purity, cleanliness, lightness
If all of this seems like a bit much to think about, you can always keep it simple. Remember that everything goes with black and white, so you could just pick one suitable colour and combine it with good ol’ B&W and you’ll be fine. Or hire a professional designer to help make the right choice(s) for you.