Brass Tacks Web Design ident

Choosing Colours For Your Website

Tuesday 16 February 2016

The first thing to consider about your website is the colours you're going to use. Are you going to use a single colour, maybe with matching shades, or would you prefer a pair of complimentary colours, maybe with an accent colour?

Colour Combinations

Ideally, your site will feature no more than three colours (in addition to black and white). This avoids overwhelming the visitor with too much colour. As well as choosing colours, think about how you'll use them together.

  • You can use a single colour - this will be the primary colour. You might want to feature two or three shades of the same colour.
  • If you chose two colours, you could use them as a primary colour and either a secondary or accent colour. An accent colour is used sparingly, whereas a secondary colour might have a larger role.
  • If you use three colours, you would use them as a primary, secondary and accent colour.

Be careful about using garish or clashing colours. Anything that distracts your visitor's attention should be avoided.

There are a number of websites that offer suggested colour schemes, such as . You could also buy a colour wheel, which gives simple guidance on colour matching and allows you to use different methods to match colours. You can buy these at any good art shop or online for around £5.

Light or dark?

Another thing to consider is whether you want to use bright or dark colours. Or maybe you'd prefer pastels. If you're going to mix tones and shades, how would you like to use them.


The colours you use on your website can reflect the personality or values of your business or organisation.

Let's take a look at some of the percieved meanings of colours:

Red is mostly associated with boldness, excitement, desire, passion, love, strength, power, energy, leadership and excitement.
Blue is associated with patience, peace, tranquility, trustworthiness, love, loyalty, stability, coolness, dependability, professionalism.
Yellow is associated with liveliness, happiness, optimism, curiosity, amusement, ideas, intelligence and brightness.
Orange is associated with energy, cheerfulness, creativity, friendliness, confidence, playfulness, courage, steadfastness, flamboyance.
Purple is typically associates with power, nobility, wealth, wisdom, royalty, independence, nobility, luxury, ambition, dignity, magic and mystery.
Green is the color of harmony, nature, healing, life, youth, health and money.
Brown is the color of reliablility, relaxation and confidence. Brown means earthiness, nature, durability, tribal, comfort, reliability, etc.

In discussing the meaning of colour, you should bear in mind that if your website is aimed at an international community, some cultures might view some colours in a different ways. For example, it is well documented that using orange can be a controversial in Northern Ireland because of its political and historical associations. In Egypt, the colour yellow is associated with mourning, as is blue in Iran. So if your're dealing with an international audience, you might want to do a little research into how other cultures react to colour.

At the end of the day, the detailed complexities of colour theory are beyond the scope of this simple guide. If you want to know more about colour theory before choosing your colours, please refer to the web resources below. However, if you're happy to make a choice based on instinct then hopefully I've provided enough guidance to help you decide.