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You don’t need to hire a Masters of the Arts to pick great colors for your website.

You just need and a basic understanding of what looks good and what doesn’t.

Luckily for web people, choosing colors for your website has never been easier. You can make as many mistakes as you need to and the possibilities for experimentation are endless. In this post we will highlight tips and tools for optimizing your website’s color scheme. First, three questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your website need to sync with an existing color scheme? This is often the case for business sites that need to reflect the branding that the company already uses. If you’re just starting a new online business, you’re free to get crazy with colors!
  • What’s the point of your website? If the purpose is to sell something, the colors you pick will need to inspire the right kind of emotions in people.  This article on color psychology in marketing has more info about that. If the aim is to display your own arts, a simple web color scheme might make your physical work stick out more.
  • What kind of images and graphics will you use? It’s important that your color scheme matches your images, and vice versa. Photos can actually be a great source of inspiration when it comes to choosing colors for your site. If you are using a photo background, you might want to choose colors from the photo for your font colors, for example.

How many colors should you use?

This is a very debatable question, but many modern designers recommend using only 3 main colors on your website. The more colors you use, the harder it becomes to keep them all in harmony and create a balanced, consistent look for your website.

Adobe offers a great tool, aptly named Color for picking color schemes, with an easy to use interface that you might recognize from high school art class.

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Another great color tool, COULOURlovers offers sample color schemes, trends and more for your designing pleasure.

Shades and tones don’t count!

Remember that you have a certain amount of room to move within each color. In many cases, you’ll want to mix up your color options beyond just the 3 main colors. Rather than add new colors to your site and risk spoiling the design, try different shades and tones of your existing colors instead.

By lightening or darkening tones in certain places, you can create distinction without upsetting your beautiful three color balance.

Remember, keep it simple! The less distraction your viewer has from your messaging and branding, the better. So stick to simple and contrasting color schemes, for easy readability and to grab the viewer’s attention.

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