Guide to Website Colour Schemes

Your Guide to Best Website Colour Schemes

Navigating the world of website colour schemes can be a daunting task. As a seasoned website design and development company, we understand the pivotal role colour plays in shaping user experience and brand identity. This guide delves into the nuances of colour in website templates, providing insights and practical advice to help you select the best colour combinations for your website. This post can be read with our earlier one on how to choose the best website font.

1. Colour and Its Impact on Website Visitors

Colour wields a subtle yet significant influence on website visitors. It can sway perception, evoke emotions, and even drive decision-making. When someone visits a website, the colour scheme is often the first element that catches their eye. This immediate visual impact sets the tone for their entire experience. For example, warm colours like red and orange are energetic and can create a sense of urgency, while cooler colours like blue and green are calming and build trust.

The psychology of colour is also pivotal in branding. The colours you choose can reinforce or undermine your brand’s message. For instance, green is often associated with health and nature, making it an ideal choice for eco-conscious brands, whereas black exudes sophistication and luxury, suitable for high-end products or services. Understanding these associations is key in selecting the best colour combinations for websites, ensuring they align with your brand’s identity and the emotions you wish to evoke in your visitors.

2. The History of Colour Schemes in Web Design

The history of colour schemes in web design reflects the technological advancements and cultural trends of the time. In the early days of the internet, websites were predominantly text-based with very limited colour, often defaulting to grey backgrounds and basic, web-safe colours. This was partly due to the limitations of early computer monitors, which could only display a limited colour palette.

As technology progressed, designers gained a broader palette to work with, but the challenge was to use these colours effectively. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a surge in the use of bright, attention-grabbing colours, often leading to cluttered and overwhelming designs. This era was marked by experimentation, as designers and businesses alike were still discovering the potential of the web as a visual medium.

3. Evolution of Website Colours Over the Last 30 Years

Over the past 30 years, the evolution of website colours has been dramatic. From the limited, stark palettes of the early internet, we’ve moved to a period of vibrant, high-contrast designs, and now to more sophisticated, user-centric colour schemes.

The 2000s were characterised by a trend towards more vibrant and diverse colour palettes. This was facilitated by the increased resolution and colour capabilities of monitors, as well as the growing importance of websites in marketing and branding. During this time, there was a shift towards creating a stronger visual impact and emotional connection with visitors through colour.

In recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift towards minimalism and flat design, with a focus on simplicity and usability so that websites have cross-browser compatibility. Muted colours, pastels, and a more restrained use of bold colours have become popular, reflecting a broader trend towards user-friendly, accessible design. This period has also seen a greater emphasis on colour psychology in web design, with more and more designers using colour strategically to create a desired emotional response or to reinforce brand messaging.

The evolution of website colours is a testament to the ever-changing landscape of web design, where technological advances and cultural shifts continue to shape how colour is used to enhance user experience and brand identity.

4. Best Practices in Choosing Colour

Selecting the right colour scheme for your website is a delicate balance of art and science. It’s essential to understand both the psychological implications of colours and the practical considerations of design. Here are some best practices:

Understand Colour Psychology:

Each colour invokes certain emotions and reactions. Blue, for instance, is often associated with trust and reliability, making it a popular choice for financial institutions. Green typically represents health and tranquillity and is ideal for wellness brands.

Consider Brand Identity:

Your colour scheme should reflect your brand’s personality. A playful and youthful brand might opt for bright and vibrant colours, while a luxury brand might choose more subdued, rich tones.

Analyse Competitors:

Look at the colour schemes used by your competitors. This can give you insights into industry trends and help you choose a palette that sets you apart.

Accessibility and Readability:

Ensure that your colour choices do not hinder the readability of your website. Contrast is key, particularly for text. Tools like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can help you test colour combinations for accessibility.

Stay Updated with Trends:

Colour trends can shift rapidly. From 2011 to 2023, there’s been a significant move towards bold, saturated colours, often paired with softer, neutral tones for balance. These trends reflect a broader shift towards designs that are both eye-catching and user-friendly.

Use Colour Sparingly:

It’s easy to get carried away with multiple colours, but often, simplicity is more effective. A limited palette can create a more harmonious and cohesive and of course, customisable website design.

Test and Iterate:

Use A/B testing to see how different colour schemes affect user behaviour and website performance.

5. Colour Families and Their Best Uses

The choice of colour family can greatly impact the feel and effectiveness of your website. Here are some popular colour families and their ideal uses:

Classic and Timeless:

  • Black & White: This combination offers a clean, modern look that’s versatile for various applications, from elegant fashion websites to professional corporate sites.
  • Navy & White: Ideal for businesses looking to project stability and professionalism. It’s a common choice in industries like finance and law.
  • Red & White: Great for brands that want to make a bold statement. It’s often used in the food industry, as red can stimulate appetite, and in marketing materials that call for action.

Natural and Harmonious:

  • Blue & Green: Perfect for brands associated with health, wellness, and the outdoors. This palette can create a calming effect and is often used in spa and health care websites.
  • Brown & Green: Suits brands with an earthy, organic feel, such as organic food stores or environmental non-profits.
  • Beige & White: Ideal for luxury brands, high-end real estate, or any website aiming for an elegant, minimalist look.

Vibrant and Playful:

  • Yellow & Blue: Excellent for educational websites or children’s products, where the goal is to appear fun yet trustworthy.
  • Orange & Teal: A modern, dynamic choice that’s great for tech startups or creative agencies looking to stand out.
  • Purple & Pink: Often used in fashion and beauty industries, this palette can convey a sense of creativity and sophistication.

Each of these colour families can be tailored to specific markets and audiences. For instance, a website for charity might use soft, warm colours to evoke empathy and compassion, while a website for small business might use more conservative, professional tones. The key is to align the colour scheme with the emotional tone you wish to set and the message you want to convey.

6. Additional Factors to Consider in Colour Scheme Selection

When crafting the best colour palette for your website, it’s not just about aesthetic appeal; it’s about communicating the right message to the right audience. Here are some additional factors to consider:

Target Audience:

Your colour choices should resonate with your intended audience. Different demographics may respond differently to certain colours. For instance, younger audiences might be more attracted to bright and vibrant colours, while a more mature audience might prefer subdued and sophisticated palettes.

Cultural Context:

Colour perceptions can vary significantly across different cultures. What is considered auspicious and positive in one culture might have negative connotations in another. A study titled ‘Universal Patterns in Color-Emotion Associations Are Further Shaped by Linguistic and Geographic Proximity’, available on ResearchGate, highlights the importance of understanding these cultural nuances. For example, while white is often associated with purity and weddings in Western cultures, it is traditionally linked to mourning in some Eastern cultures.

Purpose and Message:

What is the primary message or emotion you want to convey through your website? Colours can play a key role in this. If your website is for charity, you might choose colours that evoke warmth and compassion, such as soft blues or greens. For a corporate site, you may lean towards colours that signify professionalism and trust, such as navy or grey.


This is a critical factor in modern web design. Not everyone perceives colour in the same way, so it’s important to choose a palette that is accessible to people with colour vision deficiencies. Tools like contrast checkers can ensure that your website is readable and visually accessible to a wider audience. Adequate contrast between text and background colours is essential for readability, particularly for users with visual impairments.

7. Comprehensive Guide to Free Tools for Creating Website Colour Schemes

Selecting the perfect colour scheme for your website is made easier with a variety of free online tools. Each of these tools offers unique features and functionalities to help you create a visually appealing and effective colour palette.

  1. Coolors is a fast and intuitive colour scheme generator. It allows you to quickly create, save, and share colour palettes in seconds. With features like adjusting hue, saturation, and brightness, it’s ideal for both beginners and professionals. You can also generate palettes from images, making it a great tool for drawing inspiration from existing visuals.
  2. My Color Space: This tool is perfect for those who need a simple solution. By entering a single colour, My Color Space will generate a selection of complementary colour schemes. It’s particularly useful for finding matching colours or creating gradients for backgrounds.
  3. Canva Color Palette Generator: Canva’s tool allows you to upload a photo and generate a colour scheme based on it. This is especially useful for businesses looking to create a website colour palette that matches their existing branding materials.
  4. Huemint: Huemint focuses on generating colour palettes specifically for web design, considering factors like UI/UX and accessibility. It’s a great choice for designers looking to ensure their colour choices are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
  5. Colour Lovers: Colour Lovers is a creative community where people from around the world create and share colours, palettes, and patterns. This collaborative approach provides a vast array of inspirational and trendy colour combinations.
  6. Muzli Colors: Muzli Colors is a newer tool that integrates with design software like Sketch and Adobe XD. It’s designed to provide inspiration and practical colour solutions directly in your design environment.
  7. Color Hunt: Color Hunt offers a curated collection of beautiful, hand-picked colour palettes. It’s a great source of inspiration for those looking to see what combinations are currently trending in the design world.
  8. Colour Code: Colour Code is an advanced tool for designers who want to dive deep into colour theory. It allows for precise control over colour selection and offers a unique interface for discovering new palettes.
  9. Paletton: Paletton is designed to help artists and designers choose colour combinations that work well together. It’s particularly good for understanding the relationships between different hues and for creating colour schemes that are harmonious and balanced.
  10. Color Combos Tester: This tool allows you to test different colour combinations for your website directly in the browser. It’s great for getting a real-time feel of how colours interact with each other on an actual web page.

Each of these tools has its strengths, and the best choice depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for quick inspiration, in-depth colour theory exploration, or practical integration with design software, these tools offer a range of solutions to help you create the best colour palette for your website.

To Conclude

In conclusion, when selecting the best colour scheme for your website, it’s crucial to consider not only the aesthetic and emotional impact of your chosen colours but also how they align with your brand’s message, resonate with your target audience, and remain sensitive to cultural and accessibility standards. This holistic approach to colour selection can enhance the overall effectiveness and appeal of your website, making it a powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal.