• Jessica Trumpour

Web Design Color Theory: Are You Giving Off The Right Impression?

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

The topic of color could fill a whole book on its own.

We’ll explore the fundamentals of color theory and color scheme, and talk about the emotional effects of certain colors.

Color Theory

First, what is color theory? Color theory includes the rules and guidelines surrounding the use of color in art and design and the skill of integrating color theory can be improved and refined endlessly.. These rules and guidelines inform the design of color schemes, and ultimately work together to communicate a message on both at a visual and a psychological level by creating aesthetic appeal and effectively communicating a message

Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue

In traditional color theory, primary colors are the three pigment colors that cannot be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors, this means that all other colors are derived from these three hues.

Secondary Colors: Green, orange and purple

These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors in equal proportions. Each secondary color Is also the complementary color of the primary color whose wavelength Is does not contain (Ie: orange Is the compliment of blue, green to red, and purple to yellow)

Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green

These are the colors formed by mixing equal parts of one primary and one secondary color (that's why the hue is a two word name). There are six tertiary colors: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green.

The skill of using colors is no less than an art form.

Color Scheme

In color theory a color scheme is the choice of colors used in design for a range of media and are typically used to create style and appeal.

Triadic: using three colors at equal distances from each other on the wheel. For example, red, yellow and blue. Typically one color will act as the dominant color, while the other two work as accents.

Complementary: uses two opposite colors on the color wheel, complementary colors are opposite to each other on the color wheel, so they create a strong contrast and pop.

Analogous: based on three colors located next to each other on the wheel, they usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs. This Is often found in nature and are generally harmonious and pleasing to the eye.

Color Temperature

Did you know that your surroundings can influence your emotions and your state of mind? Do some places irritate you? Do you find others relaxing and calming? It's likely that the colors in those spaces are playing a part.

Different temperatures (warm, cool, neutral) can evoke different emotional responses from people. This means that researching the traits and expectations of a target audience is imperative for not only fine-tuning the positive impact of color use in a design but also preventing design failure.

Warm: colors with shades of yellow and red

Can elicit feelings of comfort and warmth to hostility and anger

Cool: have a blue, green, or purple tint

Can elicit feelings of calmness as well as sadness.

Neutral: includes brown, gray, black, and white

Emotional Implications of Color


Promotes: power, importance, youth

The most stimulating color, red is so energizing it has been used to increase blood circulation. Representing passion and power, red is the color that will attract the most attention, which is why it is commonly used for warnings and important notices.


Promotes: friendliness, energy, uniqueness

As the most muted of the warm colors, orange is uniquely versatile. As a primary color it can be engaging and energizing, and as a secondary color it also retains these properties in an unobtrusive way. Orange also helps to create a sensation of movement and energy.


Promotes: happiness, enthusiasm, antiquity (darker shades)

It's associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy. Yellow is often associated with food. Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color.


Promotes: growth, stability, financial themes, environmental themes

Greenis a very down-to-earthcolor. It can represent new beginnings and growth. ... Alternatively,greencan also represent envy or jealousy, and a lack of experience.Greenhas many of the same calming attributes that blue has, but it also incorporates some of the energy of yellow.


Promotes: calm, safety, openness (lighter

Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body.


Promotes: luxury, romance (lighter shades), mystery (darker shades)

Purplecombines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. Thecolor purpleis often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition.Purplealso represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.


Promotes: power, edginess, sophistication

Blackis associated with power, fear, mystery, strength, authority, elegance, formality, death, evil, and aggression, authority, rebellion, and sophistication.Blackis required for all other colors to have depth and variation of hue. ... Thecolor blackrepresents strength, seriousness, power, and authority


Promotes: cleanliness, virtue, simplicity

White is considered safe and open. White is said to promote creative thought (a blank whiteboard) and is also synonymous with fresh beginnings. As a positive, clear and open color, white can direct communication in a powerful way.


Promotes: neutrality, formality, melancholy

Grayis generally conservative and formal, but can also be modern.


Promotes: traits of surrounding colors

Beigeis dependable, conservative, and flexible. Thecolor beigeis neutral, calm, and relaxing. The attributes and meanings associated withbeigechange based on the colors it accompanies. Thecolor beigeoffers some of the warmth of thecolorbrown and the some of the crisp and coolness of thecolorwhite.


Promotes: comfort, elegance, simplicity

Ivoryis a calmcolor, with some of the pureness associated with white, though it's a bit warmer. In design,ivorycan lend a sense of elegance and calm to a site. When combined with earthy colors like peach or brown, it can take on an earthy quality.