Haute Ecole Albert Jacquard Department

A Quick Guide to Picking Colors

Depending on your project, you may just be looking at the color choices for a single image, or you may be deciding the tone for an entire website. It can be a heavy task even in the case of the former, because you could be creating a splash image that will be used on a landing page. You want the first impression to be strong, and bold, which is why you’ll usually want to take the time to understand which colors evoke which feelings, and how your color choices can affect the overall quality of the image.

A Quick Guide to Picking Colors

There are no perfect color choices for what you want to do, although you will find that there are sites that primarily use certain color options specifically because it’s linked to their brand, or to the type of industry that they’re in. Greens and pastels, for example, are very common with sites that focus on flowers and gardening. Bright reds and yellows are common with sites that focus on food. Black, and silver, are the go to colors for “luxury.” These are more examples than rules, but they do inform us on what the public commonly associates with a product, idea, or service.

Here are a few ways to narrow down your field of competitors where color is concerned:

  • Color wheels are a great tool to use if you don’t already. Adobe’s feature color matching service, Kuler, gives you a quick and easy reference chart for just about every color and combination that you can imagine, and in varying amounts. Whether you’re looking to do gradients with a sharp contrast, or you just want to find a nice, ocean-themed palette to use for a piece, color wheels can guide you toward solid complimentary choices.
  • Variation can also be a solid choice if you want to create an entire palette for a website. Big name sites and companies, like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, actually use surprisingly limited color choices when choosing their user interface elements and graphic design for marketing purposes. You will find that those sites use those colors in their branding, so it only makes sense that the actual elements of a UI include them as well. Variants on a theme, whether it’s a “blue” or a “green” site, can produce some very easy, and stylish, choices. Monochromatic choices fall into this category as well.

Picking the right color for the mood is also an important point, but it doesn’t really provide the hard and fast sort of color options that you may be interested in. Pastel yellow, for example, doesn’t carry the same expression or emotion that an electric yellow would, and neither could be seen as the same as a deep golden hue. It’s better to look at the moods within colors to find exactly what you’re looking for when attempting to match your work with your goal of making an expressive and appropriate graphical design piece.