What are the Best Colors for a Web Design and 3 ways to Decide for Your Site

color wheel showing what are the Best Colors for a Web Design

What are the best colors for a web design has many web designers pondering. Users make up their minds within seconds of their initial interactions with either products and about 60‐90% of that assessment is based on colors; something that greatly affects user experience. The unfortunate answer is that what is the best colors for a web design would depend on the owners preferences, the users of the site, what the purpose of the site is, etc. There are some guidelines so you’re not completely without a paddle on this trip; don’t worry.

Color Theory

What are the best colors for a web design starts with color theory. Basic color theory says that there is a color wheel made of the three primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – and the three secondary colors – green, purple, and orange – which are made from mixing two primary colors together. Lastly, adding white will lighten a color, and adding black will darken a color. Mixing these eight colors will give you a near infinite number of possibilities of shades and tints of every color imaginable.

Red, yellow, and orange are considered ‘warm colors’, and blue, green, and purple are considered ‘cool’ colors. A color that is warm is to other warm colors, and it is the same for cool colors to other cool colors. Colors on the opposite side of the color wheel from each other (like red and green, blue and orange, and purple and yellow) are complementary to each other. There are tertiary and quaternary colors as well. To help find what colors look good together, Canva has an interactive color wheel that will show you complementary colors (it also has further information about color theory)

As for rules about colors in websites (or other things that users will be using or looking at), use one primary color (a shade or tint is fine), and one bright color (these can be the same or different) that can be the main color or an accent color. Use at least one neutral color like white, black, grey, or brown to offset the bright color. Exactly how many colors you use is up to you, but I would recommend three (two really if you are using black or white as the third neutral color).

Colors – what they symbolize

What are the best colors for a web design depends on what you want symbolized in your website. Colors that have been used many times in a certain way or with a certain thing have gained a psychological connection with that thing. An example would be construction orange or danger red. Here are some general physiological feelings for the basic colors.

  • Red: danger, awareness, love, health, energy. 
  • Orange: optimism, fun, attention grabbing, energetic. 
  • Yellow: bright, cheerful, warm, attention-grabbing. 
  • Purple: royal, rich, wise, elegant, luxurious. 
  • Blue: calm, creative, comforting, confident. 
  • Green: calm, confident, natural, money, growth. 
  • Black: dark, serious, authority, mysterious. 
  • White: clean, bright, open, healthy, innocent.

Both blue and green give a calming confidence feeling and are common favorite colors of both men and women, so they are my standard choice for what the best colors for a web design are depending on the owner/business of the website.

Your personality and tone

Finally, what are the best colors for a web design of a website depend on what the website is for, who will be using it, and what the tone of the site and the owners want and like. For example, a website for a café should reflect the café it is for: an all-natural café should use natural colors like leaf-green and bark-brown, a café themed around rock-and-roll should use the classic red and white combo, etc.

More professional websites usually have neutral/cooler colors as their main colors with a primary or secondary color for accent to give a formal/subdued feeling. For a more casual and comfortable tone, websites usually have more warm and brighter colors to make their users more calm and relaxed. Keep in mind that the tone step by the colors should match the tone of the business/owner and the words of the content of the website.

Remember to add personality to the website by selecting colors that reflect the owner/business’s personality and values. If it is a site for military veterans, then using military red and blue or camouflage colors are valid possibilities while a gardening store should use colors found in nature like shades or tints of greens and browns that the owner likes and the color of the favorite (or best-selling) flower of the store.

Branding

Most of all, the colors of the website should match that of the owners/business’s brand. Keeping consistent colors across the brand helps build recognition and trust in the brand. If you already have a set of colors for your brand, stick with those for the website. On the other hand, if you are creating the website first, keep in mind what you want your consumers to associate with your brand – trustworthiness (blue), wise (purple), energetic (red), cheerful (yellow), etc. – and choose your website colors accordingly.

Summary

What are the best colors for a web design depends on accepted color theory, what the colors symbolize, the tone and personality of the owner/business, and the brand of the owner/business. A study done by the Seoul International Color Expo discovered that 93% of customers focus on visual appearance and about 85% of users said that color was a primary reason they bought something! Colors should reflect the brand, but it also should be used carefully since it will make customers decide whether they like and will use your website or not.

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