How to Choose a Color Palette When Designing a Brand New Website

Posted on April 29, 2009, under Design 

Choosing a color palette for your website may be one of the most important decisions you make when starting a new website. Believe it or not but the colors you choose could dictate the real success of your site when and if it becomes popular. If you choose really poor colors then people will typically tend to turn away and leave. Hence try to choose a palette that is inspiring and makes visitors come back. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when choosing a color palette. First good tip is to look at what other, successful websites, are doing with their choices of website colors? Check out 3 to 5 other sites (preferably in a niche related to yours) and note the color design parts that appeal you the most. Do you like bright and vibrant colors, Earthly tones (blue, mild brown to green) or maybe even pastel textures? Don’t be afraid to put a little of your own taste and imagination in your site. It is a reflection of you and it has to be something you believe in as well.

What kind of logos, pictures and artwork do you plan to have on your site?

Look at the additional graphics you plan to “decorate” your site with. Do you have a bunch of photos or a design for your site made up already? If so, choose colors that compliment it but also strive to making it pop and distinctive from your main competitors. If you plan to use photos then it is common to choose a color palette based on the photos themselves. But once again, don’t choose colors that compete with images, it will only make the whole thing look very unprofessional. Just imagine a picture of a blue sky with white clouds, placed on a bright red background: tasteless isn’t it?

If people are going to stare at your site for an extended period of time, for whatever reason, you will want to choose colors that are not intense and hard on their eyes. There are also colors that more commonly fit together from an ergonomical point of view and any good designer will need to know how to combine colors to make a site look crisp. A look at a color wheel or a collection of similar toned colors will really help. Very often, people choose colors on the opposing sides of the color wheel to make sure they are looking pop, but this is definitely not a rule of thumb. Sometimes choosing shades of the same color can be also very appealing.


Look at your surroundings in the world for influence.

Design is design wherever it has been displayed! Look at various artwork and other attractive influences all around you. Find inspiration in various works of art and don’t be afraid to apply it to your site. One good hint is to get to know your customers and thus estimate the colors that you know would most definitely appeal to them. It’s generally true that a male audience oriented site as a general rule should not have any shades of pink on it for example. Study the demographics of whom your site is tailored to or if there are predominant colors that appeal to your sales market. Quite often your product will dictate your colors. Many people will already know the color palette for their site based on some type of product or service they are selling. Lastly, keep in mind that the two most predominant backgrounds are black and white so you might want to take a different approach and make the background blue something which aviation enthusiast, for example, will most certainly appreciate.

So to conclude just keep in mind the following 3 things: make your website colors people and market orientated; try to experiment with complementing tones; and most certainly don’t be afraid make changes if necessary. But that does not end there. Your website should be hosted by one of the best website hosting companies to be sure of its accessibility and functionality all the time.

About Chris Reynolds

Chris Reynolds is working with WHS and specializing in eCommerce Web Hosting. Chris is an enthusiastic designer, market researcher and a person enjoying the technical side of the online industry.

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11 Replies to "How to Choose a Color Palette When Designing a Brand New Website"

  1. Informative! Something else to keep in mind is that low contrast between colors on a website IMAO can also look very lame.

  2. Thanks for ur useful article.

  3. Awsome… No words..

  4. Your choice of color and design can make or break your website. Just look at the top-ranking sites. Nobody’s using loud colors here.

  5. Hmmm… thanks for that! I have been trying to figure out what colors to use on my new site.

  6. At the moment I’m in the starting stages of creating my own online business so I don’t have any logos or anything to be inspired from. Do you think color psychology makes a difference when choosing a website color?

  7. I agree with Sharon – your choice of design and color can make or break your website, especially with Google now having that new feature where you can just hover over the search result and see what the page looks like.

  8. Thanks for the article on color palettes… but how do you choose colors based on that image

  9. I prefer white / lighter colors… I have idea why some people insist on having outstanding colors where the text is supposed to be

  10. Agreed! You should choose your webhos well or else it’ll be a long line of disputes over poor service. Service should be consistent and reliable.

  11. I have a food blog and I use colors that are very appealing and warm to the eye. I also hired a professional food photographer to take pictures that I can post on the site. So far, I’m getting good reviews and comments.

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