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Color Palettes, And How To Make Yours

November 22nd, 2009

Probably the most important choice you have to make in the graphic design of your site, after basic layout, it the choice of the color palette. Think back to the 90’s, the age of awful websites, and they all have generically awful graphic design. Tiled backgrounds, contrasting colors (Despite what they tell you in art class, complementary colors are almost always awful when used in large doses. Use a complement only if you’re desperate to draw attention to one part of the site. And please, for the sake of our retinas, don’t use purple and yellow. Ever.), and so on. A good color palette is visually appealing without being obnoxious, and should never distract from the actual content of the site. Subdued colors are usually best, unless the focus of the site is to be striking, in which case high contrast and bright colors are acceptable. Black and white always look good together, especially in artsy sites like photogalleries (With the added benefit that they go well with Lightbox.) but should be avoided for text heavy sites, because too much sustained contrast strains the eyes and impairs reading.

A good way to go about finding a color palette for your site is in reverse; find a picture you love, especially if you plan on using it as our logo or header image, and develop your color palette from that picture. This ensures that your site is not only consistent, but good looking, since a good picture will have a good blend of colors. This can be done manually, or there are sites that can do it for you, my personal preference being the Color Palette Generator.

Good luck with your color choices, and just remember that a poor looking site is almost never likely to be received well, while a good looking one can make up for a lack or brevity of content.

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