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One of the main elements web designers work with on a daily basis is color. Color choices and the way different hues interact with each other on a website can greatly influence the message the site portrays and the psychological and emotional effects it has on its viewers. Before choosing colors and palettes for websites, it’s important to gain a solid understanding color (see this great article), like the feelings or impressions certain colors are associated with, and how different combinations can create color harmony – as opposed to a chaotic or boring aesthetic.
Consider Color Theory
At the start of a project, you probably don’t have any color choices picked out, so the first step is to consider the cultural and emotional implications behind different colors. For example, cool colors often represent a calm security that web designers employ to send a message of professionalism and reliability. Warm colors are used to convey a sense of urgency and to encourage impulsive action.
After choosing a main hue, the next step is to build a solid palette. This is just as important as your initial color choice, because it builds a theme and cohesiveness within your website. Color theory suggests that there are formulas that can be used to ensure a successful palette (see here). Some of these include:
This combination involves using colors next to each other on the color wheel. This grouping is a great way to stay consistent in your design, while still providing areas of interest.
A complementary palette is created with hues that oppose each other on the wheel. If used intentionally and strategically, this opposition can create a balance within a design that helps the viewer’s mind to get a sense of order from the design. Add various tints, shades and white space between the differing colors to add smooth transition and to prevent jarring contrasts.
The triadic method consists of using three colors that create a triangle in their placement on the wheel. This allows for more freedom and diversity in a palette, but also requires more thought in the way the colors are used.
Now that you have a basic understanding of color theory, here are some helpful tools to aid you in your process of choosing color and building palettes.
This tool is a color picker and palette builder all in one. Its interface allows you to freely and immediately browse through colors, as the screen changes color and Pantone number with the movement of your mouse. Once you’ve chosen a color, make use of the nifty sidebar, which helps you to create palettes based on formulas like monochromatic, analogous, triadic and quad. You can then save and download created schemes for use in your project.
2. Shutterstock Color Spectrum
This revolutionary image discovery tool enables visually inclined designers to browse images based on color instead of traditional keyword searches. Move the color slider and enjoy real-time feedback in a collection of images for inspiration. You can even filter the types of images included in the compilation to more directly apply to your needs.
Allow your design process to reign with this palette-building tool. You can choose colors, alter them for more precise hues, keep options and take notes on various themes. You can also upload a photo to extract a palette from, save each palette and join sharing groups.
This tool lets you hash out all the details concerning your color choices by filtering the color wheel’s mode, editing your palette based on harmony formulas and testing out different layouts of hues on the wheel. An especially helpful feature for web designers is its setting for more accurate choosing of web optimized colors; you can then save them in files that work best for whichever design program you’re using.
5. Color Hunter
This theme generator builds from uploaded photos or images. Search and browse palettes that have already been created, or upload your own. Create a list of favorites to refer back to for inspiration or to help you compare themes and decide which to apply to your work.
This is a great resource if you’re not sure where to even begin in picking color. By perusing popular palettes, you can see what works well together, and consider what would be relevant to your project. Find inspiration and alter a palette to make into your own, or use the provided Pantone numbers to apply an established theme accurately to your files.
An innovative tool that can be customized for either designers or photographers, this is an all-in-one color control and creation tool that works seamlessly for agencies and freelancers alike. Its color capturing capabilities include the convenient, universal Pantone Matching System, Pantone Goe libraries, image libraries and spot colors. It offers control functions to ensure proper calibration and optimization for your colors on all devices and printers.
With this generator, you can begin by either choosing a color or allowing it to pick a random color for you – if you’re feeling adventurous. The program helps you to develop a consistent palette, as well as offer alternate options that are built from the same original color. You can edit and alter them with tints, shades, tones and mixing. The process gives you control over the subtle but important variations of your color scheme.
This dynamic color picker is incredibly flexible in that it offers various versions to fit your specific needs. Whether you’re working on your desktop or on the web, this widget conveniently provides you with color hex values for easy application to your work.
Solely generating palettes from images, this is a useful tool if you’re struggling to work with the colors in an image on your website. Creating a palette that works well with your images creates a consistency throughout your site that portrays professionalism in your design.
Wherever you are in your design process, there is likely to be a tool suited for your needs. While these tools can be very helpful, they don’t replace the benefits that come with understanding and practicing color theory. But combining that knowledge with the intuitive control these tools offer is sure to produce successful results in the color palette for your design.