The World of Color

When you build a website, color is very important. The combination that you use sets the tone for all that follows. If you use sharply contrasting colors or too many colors, you may end up doing more harm than good. Because of this risk, it is one of the most challenging aspects of design.

Existing Elements

There is no need to reinvent the wheel when choosing a color scheme for your website. You have many places to begin your search. If you are working with an existing business or organization, you can pull colors from their logo, brochures, business cards, letterhead, or signage. If your website is part of a complete brand makeover, the new marketing strategy should provide you with concepts and emotions that need to be supported by the design. This approach is also important when designing for a new business.


It helps to do a little research to become aware of any design norms that exist for your subject area. Take a look at other websites in the same field. If you are working for an environmental cause for example, you will likely see nature-focused images dominated by green. As you scan through other websites, you will see other trends that include dominant color schemes such as primary colors for topics related to young children, brown for coffee houses, etc.

Image Colors

Just as interior designers often use paintings to pull colors from, you can also begin with a photograph or illustration for your color scheme. If you have images that will be included on the website, you can use the colors within those images to build your color scheme. Many software programs allow you to determine the exact signature of a given color in an image. Both Chrome and Firefox browsers have a Color Picker extension that can be installed to find the specific colors you find on your browsed web pages.

Limit the Number of Colors

Although every designer has his or her own style, generally speaking, you should limit the number of colors in a website to 3. In addition you can use shades and tints of those 3 colors for some variation, such as with links and hovering variants. In addition, they should not be used equally. The first color should account for 60% of the color application, the second color should account for 30% of the design and the final color should only account for 10% of the overall color application. Following these general guidelines will help you avoid some of common web design disasters.


There are many resources available online that can help you see which colors will work best for your project. The most common tool is called a color picker, and once you have identified the RGB or HEX signature for your color, you can use it to find an existing color scheme posted by another designer, or create one of your own within basic color theory guidelines. You can even use the recognized name of a color, such as forest green or lemon yellow, to conduct your search. Your design software should also have built-in tools to assist you with this task.


It is very important to share your color scheme samples with people you trust for feedback. You must ensure that that the scheme you select supports the marketing message you want to communicate and that your target market finds it attractive.