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How to choose colours for a website

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When designing a web site, most of the web designers give attention to two major factors; the design, i.e. the graphics and logos of the site, and the content. However, colour too plays a very important part in the design of a website as it defines the mood and emotions of the visitor and reflects your identity and image branding.

Colour can be classified as a form of symbolism. This is why we often say a person is green with envy or perhaps red with anger. Colours play a great deal in affecting us psychologically and can thus stimulate our appetite and also suppress it. There are strong colours like red and orange, and peaceful colours like green and blue. So depending on the mood and scheme of the website, colours have to be chosen wisely.

Modern computers are capable of displaying millions of colours on the screen. However, web design is limited to only 216 colours as Mac computers and PC’s both use different colour palettes that are common to both. These 216 colours are considered to be ‘web safe’ meaning that the web site colours look fairly consistent on different computers, be it Mac or PC, different operating systems and even different browsers like Internet Explorer and Mozilla.

Choosing the correct colour scheme for your site can be selected from the various types of colour combinations there are. The monochromatic colour schemes use a single colour where different values of the chosen colour are used to create the feel of the different colours. These schemes are basically harmonious and peaceful as using a single colour creates unity and thus helps to create and tie things together. Visually appealing schemes created by using colours that are related, but not the same, are called analogous colour combinations. Examples of analogous colour schemes are a selection of blues and purples or of reds and oranges. While two colours can be used in an analogous colour scheme, one colour is usually used as the dominant colour in the website while the others are considered to be accents. Colours that are opposite are used for contrasting colour schemes that are complimentary and pleasing to the eye. For example, yellow and green and purple and pink can be considered as contrasting colours. Contrasting colour combinations needn’t be ones using startling and obvious colours as new combinations too are pleasing to the eye. However, there is a word of caution to be kept in mind while using contrasting colours in the website. Usually the eye has difficulty focusing on contrasting colours at the same time. So it is always better to use contrasting colours for your accents and to avoid using strong contrasts as background and type colours. Then there is the triadic colour combinations which are colour combinations with three opposing colours. Red, yellow and blue make a great triadic colour scheme. As in contrasting colour combinations, it is not advisable to use full strength and startling colour combinations in triadic colour combinations. Instead, using a more subdued value of one or more colours very much help in creating better readability for the site.

Colour is all around us, in nature, furnishings, cars, and in the hundreds of designs we see in the web and in print. When you happen to see a colour combination that thrills you, just jot it down and save it for the future as you may never know when you may need it for the colour scheme of your website!

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