Color Theory from the Digital Perspective

May 8, 2015In Web Design4 Minutes

Our everyday experiences teach us that color has value well beyond what we see. It complements our moods, helps us stop or go, and reminds us of memories held in the mind’s jar. It is the constant importance of color recognition that makes color theory so important to digital design.

The interface colors of a website can and will affect how individuals perceive a brand of produce. As mentioned, colors dictate emotion; further, different colors correlate to different states of being, as theorized and proved by psychologists and businesses for years – big businesses use colors to affect emotions (and consequently, decisions). Brands want to stand out in people’s minds, creating positive associations and making them more likely to recall in the future. The site and logo should be easily recognizable by an audience and correlated to your service or product library.

Color theory and color relationships are a central and often overlooked area of interface design. Taking an in-depth approach at the color choices for a brand (website, logo, and other materials) requires taking a close look at the brand values and goals. Many different combinations may be a good fit for an organization and its message.

Color relationships are determined by their position on the color wheel. From a basic standpoint, colors on the warm side of the spectrum (characterized as yellow, red, and orange) are inviting, full of energy and engage specific calls to action as well as intuitive movement on a site. The cooler counterparts (blue and green) evoke a serene, calm feeling bringing a sense of peace and allows for deeper information retention.

Selecting a color for a website is so much more than choosing a scheme and transforming it into a layout. The importance of infrastructure and strategy comes up again as if to reinforce its necessary status in the world of web design. Color choice must be steeped in the study and thought. It’s simply not enough to implement what might be appealing to the eye of the designer.

If a brand has done the work to understand its audience, then the skill to understand what is appealing to them exists in their creative toolbox. A standout takeaway in the process of crafting a website or brand with regard to color is that design can not fix bad content. A well-designed site button will mean nothing if the call to action is not appropriate for the user.

Beyond understanding what will appeal to an audience, a brand must weave in its elements throughout the design without overpowering the user. If a brand has three main colors, it’s advised to use one to two additional complementary colors as well as tonal versions of the brand colors. This will help to keep the user engaged and not overwhelm the senses.

Because web-based design uses additive color, also known as RGB, the use of traditional color theory is widely used. It’s interesting to note that no matter the level of technology, the age-old color wheel is, almost always, a failsafe way to go when choosing color for digital design.

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