Color coordination is an essential part of web design and art in general. While choosing a color scheme for your website may seem like a simple task, color coordination can quickly become a very complicated and frustrating task. Thankfully, color theory has provided a number of ways to organize colors, which has made the job of matching colors much easier. There are six conventional color schemes that serve as frameworks for choosing color combinations. In this article, I’ll discuss what those frameworks are, as well as look at some examples in modern day brands.

How to Choose a Color Palette for Your Website

How to choose a color palette for your website

Color coordination is an essential part of designing a professional website.  While choosing a color scheme for your website may seem like a simple task, color coordination can quickly become a very complicated and frustrating task. Thankfully, color theory has provided a number of ways to organize colors, which has made the job of matching colors much easier. There are six conventional color schemes that serve as frameworks for choosing color combinations. In this article, I’ll discuss what those frameworks are, as well as look at some examples in modern day brands.

The Color Wheel

In order to understand color schemes, you first need to be familiar with the color wheel. Traditionally, artists have used the RYB (red, yellow, and blue) color wheel. Red, yellow, and blue are considered the primary colors because, when mixed together, these three colors can be used to create all the other colors on the wheel. For example, mixing blue and yellow will result in green, mixing yellow and red results in orange, and mixing blue and red results in purple, just to name a few examples.

In light of the many options of colors that we’re provided with, it can be difficult to choose a visually pleasing color palette. Thankfully, six different color schemes have been created which have made the task of color coordination much easier. These color schemes are simply patterns based on the color wheel. Nearly every well-known brand makes use of one of these color schemes:

  1. Monochromatic
  2. Analogous
  3. Complementary
  4. Split-complementary
  5. Triadic
  6. Tetradic

1. Monochromatic

First is the monochromatic color scheme. This color scheme only uses one color. The simplicity of this color scheme makes it attractive to websites that are prioritizing a minimal, straightforward look. No matter what color you choose, you know you’ll end up with a consistent and coordinated look throughout your website.

Two great examples of the monochromatic color scheme can be found in Coca-Cola’s branding, as well as the superhero DareDevil. Both of these examples exclusively use the color red. As I discussed in my article on color psychology, the color red is often used to represent passionate emotions like anger, making it a great choice for DareDevil. Red is also used by many food and beverage companies to work up an appetite in its customers, making it an excellent choice for Coca-Cola’s branding. To see some examples of the monochromatic color scheme in web design, you can check out my websites for WisperMSG and Octagon Fitness.

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2. Analogous

The analogous color scheme involves using two colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel. Similar to the monochromatic color scheme, this is a very simple scheme and is guaranteed to result in lots of good-looking color combinations.

Analogous color scheme

Two brands that serve as examples of this scheme are John Deere and the Seattle Seahawks. John Deere primarily uses the color green with yellow as an accent. The Seahawks, on the other hand, went in the other direction by using green and blue. Both color combinations result in professional brands that are instantly recognized by practically anyone.

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3. Complementary

The complementary color scheme also uses two colors, this time on opposite ends of the color wheel. This color scheme is very popular, with lots of examples in food brands, sports teams, superhero costumes, and many other places.

Complementary color scheme

One great example of this scheme is the New York Mets’ color palette. With blue and orange being on directly opposite ends of the color wheel, the Mets’ colors serve as a perfect example of this color scheme. Another great example is the video game character Wario, who wears a yellow hat along with purple suspenders. Even though this outfit is not to my taste, it still serves as a great example of the complementary color scheme.

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4. Split-Complementary

The next three color schemes we’ll discuss are a bit more complex due to the fact that they contain more colors. While the added colors can be a bit more difficult to coordinate, these schemes can be a powerful branding tool thanks to their ability to grab the attention of potential customers. The first one we’ll discuss is the split complementary color scheme. This color scheme starts with a base color and then adds two colors on the opposing side of the wheel.

Two examples of this scheme are the Miami Marlins and Mozilla Firefox. The Miami Marlins logo uses blue as its base color, and then adds yellow and orange as accents. Similarly, Firefox uses orange as its base color, with blue and violet being added as accent colors.

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5. Triadic

The triadic color scheme involves using three colors, each equally distanced from the others. If your goal is to create a brand or website that grabs people’s attention, this is likely the ideal color scheme.
Triadic color scheme
The three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) are, in fact, a triadic color scheme. These three colors are actually one of the most popular color combinations and can be found in all sorts of brands, including Burger King, Superman, and Red Bull just to name a few.
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6. Tetradic

The last color scheme we’ll discuss is the tetradic scheme, which uses two sets of opposing colors.

Tetradic color scheme

This color scheme is frequently used by tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Slack. It’s an excellent way to grab attention and also portray your website as friendly and down-to-earth.

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My Favorite

Since I prioritize simplicity in my web design, I prefer to use the first three schemes, with the monochromatic color scheme being my favorite. However, I do sometimes like to change things up by using one of the more complex color schemes, like I did for Super Smoothie.

It’s important to remember that your website’s color palette doesn’t have to be limited to these six schemes. While it is usually a good idea to stick to conventional practices, it is important to try new things. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own color scheme. This kind of creativity should be characteristic of any good web designer or artist.

Additionally, if you are having a difficult time creating a color palette, there are lots of different websites that provide color palette generator programs for free. My top three favorites are:

  1. Color Hunt
  2. Coolors
  3. Muzli Colors

These sites serve as excellent sources of inspiration when you’re having trouble coming up with a good color palette.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the color wheel, as well as the six color schemes: monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split-complementary, triadic, and tetradic. These schemes can serve as excellent tools for creating a coordinated color palette for your brand or website. There are also numerous websites that create thousands of different color palettes based on these schemes, making the process of color coordination and web design much easier. I hope this article expanded your knowledge of branding and color theory. If yo’d like to read more about how to use colors in web design, feel free to read my article on how cinematography can improve your website design. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. You can also reach me at (239) 776-9180 or info@blueprintwebdesign.com. I’d love to answer any questions you have and help you pick a color palette that reflects your brand and improves the look of your website.

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