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how do i choose a color scheme for my website

Many people find choosing a color scheme an intimidating and confusing process. Certainly it can be when using all the colors available on modern computers

Have you ever been surfing the Internet and come across a super bright blazing page and wished you had your sunglasses handy?

Your Web site is your presence to the world, and an esthetically pleasing color scheme will almost certainly guarantee a better visitor response. Essentially, color use can dramatically alter the overall feeling and emotion of any Web site

So the first step when choosing a color scheme is to keep it simple. On this page choosing a color scheme is broken down into three painless chunks:

color theory, color harmony and color context

color theory

primary colors

primary colors
red, yellow and blue
In traditional color theory, these are the 3 pigment colors that can not be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues
secondary colors

secondary colors
green, orange and purple
These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.
tertiary colors tertiary colors
yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green.
These are the colors formed by mixing the secondary colors.

color harmony

In choosing a color scheme, color harmony should be given much consideration

color harmony engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it's either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged. The human brain will reject under-stimulating information. At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can't stand to look at it.

The human brain rejects what it can not organize or understand, color harmony delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

formulas for color harmony

There are many formulas for color harmony in choosing a color scheme, described here are the two main concepts for selecting a color scheme, analog & triadic

choosing a color scheme based on analogous colors
analog colors     An analogous colors scheme
analogous colors are any three colors which are side by side on a 12 part color wheel, such as purple-red, purple, and blue-purple. Usually one of the three is a main color.

choosing a color scheme based on triadic colors
triadic colors     A triadic colors scheme
three colors are located by drawing an equilateral triangle within the color wheel. The points of the triangle indicate which colors are to be used in the scheme.

color context

In addition to color theory and harmony some thought should be given to color context when choosing a scheme.

color behaves differently in relation to other colors and shapes, for example, compare the contrast effects of different color backgrounds for the same red square.


Red appears more brilliant against a black background and slightly duller against the white background. In contrast with orange, the red appears lifeless; in contrast with blue-green, it exhibits brilliance.

same color different perception

Observing the effects colors have on each other is the starting point for understanding the relativity of color. The relationship of values, saturations and the warmth or coolness of respective hues can cause noticeable differences in our perception of color.

the center of each square is the same color

some traditional views of certain colors include:

*Red: anger, love, passion, hot

*Green: envy, growth, nature, cool

*Yellow: happy, bright, warm

*Blue: cooling, calming, reassuring cool to cold, depending on depth and intensity

*Black: fear, dark, cold

*White: purity, innocence, cool

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