Fire Engine Red, Sky Blue, Mint Green . . . these colors have distinct personalities and touch our emotions in different ways. Fire Engine Red conveys a sense of excitement, speed and dangerous beauty. Sky Blue may bring images of a clear sunny day, a pristine lake, freshness. And what does Mint Green remind you of? A single color can bring back memories that have emotional value to you. Color indeed has personality! This lively characteristic of color can be harnessed by web designers to woo the hearts of potential customers who visit your web site!
We consider color one of three keys to good web design. The basics of good web design are color, order and form. Of these three, I believe color to be the most important way to touch the emotions of the viewer. However, it is also the one ingredient web designers often get wrong, overdo, or give the least amount of thought. We will connect emotionally to a well chosen color palette even if the layout is less than first rate. But if the colors are unsuitable, garish or confusing it will be rejected by the eye and the emotions, along with the product you would like to sell! Therefore, get the colors right and you've made a strong first step in good web design.
I can best teach the effectiveness of color in web design by example. The example chosen is Branch Brook Park, Newark NJ a web site designed to promote a state park located in Newark, NJ.
First of all, notice the number of colors used in the overall design. It is a two color palette (dusty pink, and shades of green). Why only three colors? I have found that a color palette that uses three or fewer overall colors contributes to the clarity of a web page. It reduces visual clutter, so that the eye does not have to work hard to collect information from the page.
How and why were the colors used here chosen? I decided that the photograph in the upper left hand corner should establish the tone of the web site. It is a scene from the park, and has delicate colors of early spring that complement the theme of the web site. Therefore, I chose three colors you see in the photo to create overall harmony. The green is from the grass in the photo, the pink from the cherry blossoms on the trees and the yellow from blossoms in the background. I used green as my dominant color because it is a more restful color. The dusty pink became my accent color.
Why are these colors are fitting for a web site about a state park? Because they touch the emotions and carry the memories of parks that we are all familiar with. Note something else about these colors: They look natural, not overly vivid (or saturated) as most computer generated colors do. I usually desaturate colors so that they approximate colors usually seen in nature or textiles. This makes the web page warmer, more inviting, less 'computerish' in look and feel. The end result is a web page that invites the viewer to linger, that touches the heart strings and connects on an emotional level.