Web Site Background Colour

Men tend to prefer blue and orange to red and yellow while women prefer red to blue and yellow to orange

Using colours to connect with your audience

Web ColoursWhen designing a Web site, most web designers give a lot of attention to two major factors: the design (graphics and logos) and the content. But what about the colours? This is one of the most important things to consider when designing your site. The colours of your Web site are important because they will define the mood and emotions of your visitors as well as reflect your identity and image branding.

Colour is symbolism. We say someone who is jealous is "Green with envy". Someone who is sad is said to be "Blue." When we are angry, we see red." Colours affect us psychologically. They can stimulate our appetite or suppress it. They can make us happy, excited, angry or sad. Let's take a look at colours and what they mean to your visitors. Then we'll discover the different colour combinations and how they apply to your Web site.

Warm Colours

Red: Red is one of the most powerful and attention-getting colours. Red symbolizes passion and fire, love and lust. It has been proven to raise blood pressure and cause perspiration. Red reflects energy and can motivate an individual to take action. It can also symbolize war, violence, blood, and aggression.

Pink, however, is the softer side of red. Pink is romantic, calming and feminine.

Orange: Vibrant and warm, orange is associated with autumn, pumpkins and Halloween. It inherits many of the traits of red, but is less passionate. Orange has been known to stimulate the appetite. As a citrus colour, it can also symbolize health.

Yellow: Yellow symbolizes sunshine and warmth. It can mean hope, light and energy. On the other hand, it can mean weakness or illness, or symbolize cowardice.

Cool Colours

Green: Green signifies health and growth (vegetation) and wealth (money). Green symbolizes spring, renewal, and fertility. It can also mean jealousy or inexperience.

Blue: Blue is one of the most calming colours and is associated with the sky and the sea. It is considered to be a "safe" colour and signifies intelligence, reassurance, and trust. Blue has also been known to be an appetite suppressant and can signify depression and sadness.

Purple: The combination of red and blue, purple is one of the most intriguing colours and symbolizes creativity. Purple is spiritual and mysterious. Deep purple is associated with royalty and richness while
lavender is associated with romance and nostalgia.

Neutral Colours

Black: Black can represent power, elegance, and sophistication, but it can also represent death (Western culture), evil, anger and sadness.

White: White represents cleanliness, purity, and spirituality. It represents life and marriage in Western cultures, but it represents death in Eastern cultures.

Grey: Grey is the combination of black and white. It is a conservative colour. Grey can symbolize security, maturity and reliability, but it can also signify gloominess and sadness.

Brown: We like to classify brown as a "special" colour. Sometimes brown can be used as a neutral and sometimes as a warm colour. Either way, brown represents credibility and stability, the hearth, home and the earth.

A Special Note About Using Colours on the Web

Although modern computers are capable of displaying millions of colours on the screen, Web design is limited to only 216 colours. The reason for this is that Mac computers and PC's both use completely different colour palettes. However, they have 216 colours that are common to both. These 216 colours are considered "Web safe". Using the 216 Web safe colours means that your Web site colours will look fairly consistent on different computers (Mac or PC), different operating systems (Windows or Mac), as well as different browsers
(Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, to name two).

Choosing a Colour Scheme

Once you understand colours and their connotations you are ready to begin choosing a colour scheme for your site. But, where do you begin? Let's look at different types of colour combinations.

Monochromatic colour schemes use a single colour. Differing values of the chosen colour can be used to create the feel of different colours. Monochromatic colour schemes are harmonious and peaceful. Using a single colour creates unity and can help to create or tie things together.

Analogous colour combinations use colours that are related, but not the same, to create visually appealing schemes. A selection of blues and purples, or reds and oranges create an analogous colour scheme. Two or more colours can be used in an analogous colour scheme however, one colour is often used as a dominant colour while others are used as accents.

Contrasting colours are complimentary and pleasing to the eye. Colours that are opposites create contrasting colour schemes. For instance, yellow and purple or red and green are contrasting colours. Contrasting colour schemes generally use a warm colour and a cool colour but it isn't necessary to use the startling and obvious combinations, like blue and orange. You might try beige and light blue or maroon and forest green to create very pleasing and contrasting combinations.

A word of caution concerning contrasting colours. Generally, the eye has difficulty focusing on contrasting colours at the same time. Orange type in a blue background is very difficult for your viewer to read. Use contrasting colours for your accents and avoid setting strong contrasts as background and type colours or take them down a notch. A light orange, almost cream, dark blue background is much more readable and still a contrasting combination.

Triadic colour combinations are comprised of three opposing colours. Red, yellow, and blue would be a triadic colour scheme. Like contrasting colour combinations it is not necessary to use full strength, startling combinations to create effective triadic colour schemes. Using a more subdued value of one or more colour can help to create greater subtlety, harmony and readability for your site.

It can be a lot of fun to choose colours. Colour is all around us, from nature to our cars, furnishings and the multitudes of designs we see on the Web and in print. Look around at the colours that other designers have used. Ask yourself what you like about them, or what you don't like. Nature is an unbeatable resource. Flowers and birds, mountains and deserts all provide fabulous colour combinations. When you see a colour combination that thrills you jot it down and save it for the future. You never know when you may be in
need of a fabulous colour scheme for a new site or an update