How Colors Help Make Websites Successful


You might not realize how important colours are in web design. If a website is green, it might as well be blue; it doesn’t matter. And while I thought this myself for a long time, I recently came to the conclusion that the color is actually going to make a huge difference and express something different to your audience. There are psychological effects behind each color and tone, therefore I decided to tell you more about them today.

Human senses get excited about lots of stuff. One of the most effective ways to excite somebody is to project a red hue color onto the walls of their room. It’s been done before by scientists and they came with a clear conclusion. A person who lives in a red room has a higher heart rate and blood pressure than a person living in a blue room. This is because red symbolizes excitement, we all know this. There is a reason why fast food companies choose red as their main or secondary color. Good examples are Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Burger King or Pepsi (although blue is their main color).

Colors Stimulate Senses

Colors can stimulate and excite people, increase their appetite, make them feel warm or make them feel tranquil. Red simply makes you excited according to those who study chromodynamics. Coke’s website is red – it gives you a feel of a lazy, hot summer day – just when you feel the need to drink Coke.

Image Source: StockLogos

There’s more to colors in web design than just the emotional factor. People tend to gamble more under red light conditions than under blue light. This is the main reason behind cities like Las Vegas using a lot of red lights. Colors have impact on performance. Red lights make people act quicker and feel more powerful, which is not always beneficial, while blue makes people think more before acting. There is a reason STOP signs are red – you need to act right away and stop the vehicle you drive, otherwise you are in danger.

Mixing Colors

Mixing colors is beneficial if done the right way. Mixing very complementary colors is also something people do, but it should only be done occasionally. It shouldn’t be overdone because it has a bad effect on people’s eyes. You can think of a black website with pink text. Now that’s an image I would like to get out of my head as soon as possible :).

There is a very good trick behind using complementary colors together. Drawing a thin neutral white, gray or black line around the two colored shapes will make the eyes see both colors separately. Just look at the Pepsi logo below: red and blue are separated by not only a thin layer of white, but by a quite big one. This white shape blends red and blue better then if they would be placed right on top of each other.

Image source: Pepsi

Colors and Cultures

Moreover, colors mean something else in different parts of the world. While red means luck in China, it means a lack of it in Germany. Huge corporations with lots of financial resources will use large amounts of money to study the effects different colors have on different cultures, before entering a new market. Many think it is impossible, but clients can be lost because of using the wrong colors.

And while huge corporations usually hire experts to do this research for them, the results are not always good. Every designer (and every person in general) has a tendency to like colors or combinations of colors and to use them in different situations because it’s what they personally like. I myself love red and black together, pretty obviously because I’ve been supporting Italian outfit A.C. Milan for almost ten years now. This is not such a good asset when working with colors is your way of earning a salary. It is crucially important for designers to tear all their personal favorites apart and only focus on the clients and their needs.

Colors for a Website

Picking a color for a website means much more then picking your favorite color and turning it into a layout. It means picking the right color in order to get the desired response from your audience. If you know your audience well and figured out which color works best for them, you are already halfway there in the creation process. It is also quite unlikely to pick a color that will fit every visitor of your website, therefore it is even more important to be able to determine which color and tone works best for most users you target.

Image source: 123RF Stock Photos

According to different sources, half of the people visiting a website don’t come back because of the color of the design. The first thing people need to recognize when they see your site are the brand colors. If you have multiple colors and they can’t see the most dominant, it means you should consider a redesign.

  • If you have a blue color scheme, people will likely give you a better response when in a good mood. If you want a clean, white design, it’s fine too. But if you want to make it exciting, use bright red or orange here and there. White and green work great together, and if you want to be stylish and modern without using intense colors, go for white and gray. Such a combination illustrates something glamorous, sleek, fresh and clean. Just look at the classy example below.

  • If you like darker shades, pretty much everything works well with black as long as black is not the dominant color. A website with a black background can be fancy and look good, but is not easy to read. The two simplest combinations you can go for are black and white or black and a bright gray. Although a very powerful contrast, black and orange work really well together, but might require white for balance.
  • If you want to combine both black and white with a color, then they work really well with blue; make sure white is dominant, otherwise you need a very bright blue to dominate. Don’t give black a lot of emphasis in this combination. You can see a good example below. The second example is quite poor and shows how this combination can be put into practice. Not only is the design outdated, but the colors make it even more difficult to bear.

  • Black and white work very well with red too, but make sure red is not dominant, as then it gets too powerful and creates an unbearable contrast with black. You can see two good examples below.

  • A third combination I would recommend is black, white and green, and you can see down below why.

Image source: Website Templates Online


Using the right color in your designs is crucial and I am sure you can see why. Although it might sound wrong, by using the right color in accordance to your audience will increase the likelihood of them doing what you want them to do. But wrong or right, this is what all designers work for, sending a message to an audience and then hoping to get a response from them. If you understand how color psychology works and which color fits your audience, you are a step closer to launching a successful website.



  1. waasay

    colors mean something else in different parts of the world. While red means luck in China, it means a lack of it in Germany.

  2. afrotate

    Great article. There’s nothing frustrating like getting into site that doesn’t have a right color combination, this ends up causing a tension on the eye and like you said it ends chasing users away from one site.

    Thanks for the share.

  3. BRAVO! what a fantastic article indeed… This is an area that many online companies struggle with a lot. Even with the best web designers one can never know what is the right color, font, etc. Ideally the key is to constantly re-invent yourself. We have seen some of the biggest Brand names like Nike, Coke and Pepsi go through many metaphorsis in terms of their logo, though their colors have remained the same, some what, its fair to say that color is truly fundamental in how we response and entice those senses. Though I would like to point out that not all brands, websites, logos, all bloggers like myself need color to pull an audience. It works differently for everyone but visually speaking today we have become a power house in which the use of imagery, color and sound appears to be more effective than content.

  4. Colors in design are often overlooked but they really help in achieving the perception your company is looking for. Smashing magazine has a chapter in their second book about colors in web design and why you should pay attention to them.

  5. Jillian Peaks

    This is just rambling nonsense generated for the purpose of collecting clicks. Dreary.

  6. Dan McCormick

    When my wife and I moved into our new home, one of the first rooms my wife wanted to repaint was the master bedroom.
    We chose red.
    Bad choice.
    My wife would always be in a bad mood if she spent any time in the bedroom.
    The color red was making her angry.
    Once we realized this was the cause of her anger, we repainted the bedroom to an off-white.
    My wife actually did “see red” when the bedroom was red.

  7. Good stuff…There is nothing I struggle with more than developing a good color scheme. I fall into the editing abyss…when I should be spending my time on content, not design. Good point of picking the color for your audience, not you…

  8. Susan

    Yes, color selection is one of the many facets of branding. I guess I’m just glad you’ve moved on from simply “picking your favorite color and turning it into a layout”. Sheesh.

  9. Paddy Lynch

    Sorry, but this article seems to be stating the obvious. Any designer worth his/her salt will take into account the colour scheme of a potential design. This is a basic requirement and if, as a designer, you need to be reminded of that then you’re probably in the wrong job.

    • I feel the same way but the article is probably aimed at beginners/novices. It’s only obvious to more experienced designers.

  10. Fredi

    Designing for as many years as I have one thing I know is there are no absolutes. Not everyone reacts the same way to a color. There are rules of thumb, there are good colors and there are colors that are from nightmares. The art of design is having the ability of taking the mustard and green logo of your clients company identity and incorporating those colors into something that appeals not repels. Being able to use your ideal palette is one thing. Being able to create graphics that accomplish your end objectives takes your unique creative skills. That is what great functional design and your skill as a designer is all about. Red may stimulate someones hunger on a restaurant site, but if it does not include good type design, and a quick clear message with ease of navigation, it may as well not be created to begin with.

  11. Madhavi Patel

    You are right, website colors do play an important part in making a website a grand success.

  12. Lance Rutter

    When you’re finished stating obvious facts and commerce-focused ideas about how to manipulate people’s emotions and impulse purchasing habits by using color, I encourage you to read about Josef Albers if you want to explore a master’s take on applied art and color theory. This is just a beginning:

  13. Great article information regarding how to choose the color on website. Like the most web 2.0 sites, the designer is improving on the colors thats more user-friendly

  14. takid

    Great post,m having problem also on choosing the perfect combination for my cellphone and computer repair website.maybe u got one or two suggestions.

  15. You are right, website colors do play an important part in making a website a grand success. Colors along with a good website structure do have a neurological impact on a human brain. Even researches and studies have suggested the same thing again and again. a colorful website is likely to get more clicks or reviews compared to a dull website. In short colors speak much more than texts present in a website!

  16. Mohammed Uddin

    nice article i love google’s layout its so simple yet so intriguing. Wouldn’t you agree. I think white with a hint of light gray and the right shade of blue found on youtube sign in button on youtube homepage would really set up a nice color scheme.

  17. Antony Cix

    Great article with lots of valid points. Just wanted to add that while the science of colour is so important if we were all red or blue where would be the stand out. Understand colour but also deliver colour to a brand that is unique.

  18. JG

    Good article, I recently replaced red for blue on my website and after that the number of returning visitors have almost doubled.
    Maybe it has something to do with it.

  19. Shahzad Anjum

    Great article about choosing right colors for web designs
    i think light color schemes are better

  20. Murat Yilmaz

    I think blue color has a more soothing effect on the visitors. Plus, it gives more confidence on the branding of the website. These are surely my own thoughts and people can really differ in feelings.

  21. Alain

    Nice to see that some of the things we’ve picked up in school are still valid, even if it was ment for print ;-) Any designer, visual artist in whatever domain they are working in should know this, before starting to work out what it is they want to create, yes, the impact of color is really important and there are tons of books on the subject. So, good article going over the options and putting it in place that “what I like” is not the same as “is it efficient”.

  22. I like this post with example of color using in webdesign. Yes, color has a great value to become a successful website. I am totally agree with this post. Thanks.

  23. Rakhitha Nimesh

    Great article regarding designing sites with perfect colours. I always wanted to use black and gray coloured themes. But most of the people say they don’t like it.

    Is there any disadvantage using black in your themes.?

    Thanks for sharing

  24. Hal

    So how would you approach a design with a co-brand where both are equal brands, one is bright red and one is bright green, without the design conjuring up images of Christmas or Italian restaurants?

    • Ms. Tina

      Good question, Hal. :) Although red and green *are* complimentary (balanced) hues (colors), they do, indeed, bring Christmas and all things Italian to mind. I thought about that myself, early on; however, my mom was an interior designer and her hue ‘combos’ were stunning…even co-hues like those in the red and the green ‘families’. Correct shades of red and green were used, and lovely prints for drapes, tablecloths, bedspreads were done in the greens of nature (stems/leaves, let’s say), along with various red shades of ‘roses’, let’s say, with most roses in the medium to dark shades of red (dark, like wine), and with one or two roses in pink and with shades of white ‘peeking out’ (background hue). With this type of combo, Christmas is far from a Spring/Summer type ‘theme’, and so’s all things Italian (even Italian wine). :D The same combo can be applied to a striped ‘theme’ (design) on fabric or on walls, again…in the correct shades. Now…that’s interior design, not a website, of course. However, a website can be viewed as ‘a room’ and so, the correct shades of red and green *can* work without holiday/holy day and ethnic reminders.