If you have a website or app that you’re creating for your company, then you need to think about user interface design basics. In particular, you should pay attention to your color choices.
Color choice matters. Each one invokes some particular visual or emotion in those who see it. You can use that in design. Let’s talk about how to create a user interface that takes full advantage of color selection. It’s one of those user interface design principles that should benefit your bottom line.
Why Colors Must Be Used Properly in Your Website UI
Colors can speak in ways that are every bit as powerful as language. They can reflect the personality of your brand. They can attract users, and they can better communicate your message. Any UI Design guidelines are likely to mention colors prominently.
Color can set the basic mood, tone, concept, and connotation for a brand or product. Research conducted by the Institute for Color shows that users take about 90 seconds to assess the quality of online products. From 62% to 90% of all product assessments that people make are color-influenced on the subconscious level. It then follows that choosing the correct colors for your logo, brand, and product packaging should never be done on a whim.
You can employ a UX color palette for a better user experience. The right color selection always supports better information readability. It can also serve to increase the strength of elements such as calls-to-action. It can enhance customer navigation capabilities. It can fulfill subconscious aesthetic user needs. Lastly, it can stimulate intuitive interactions.
So, the color of language can also influence the purchasing decision. These days, color in UI design is a central part of any online marketing strategy.
Each UX color choice has a unique meaning and connotation that goes along with it. Some of that, of course, is dependent on culture.
Choose the Right Color in the Proper Pattern
Different UI design colors signal various concepts to the senses. Ideally, you want to choose the right one at the right time and in the right pattern. They must be aimed toward the correct users, and you should choose them to target the proper goals.
If your wish is to use color in UI design wisely, firstly understand colors’ meaning, that they provoke the right emotions in your customers and help to get the desired response. 0
Let’s start with emotions colors can bring and differences in its perception:
- The red refers to what we call warm colors. Those would be red, orange, and yellow. These warm colors bring about emotions having to do with warmth and comfort. However, they might mean anger, hostility, or passion to some individuals as well. The famous brand that uses red as main company color to call for comfort and warm emotions is for sure well-know Coca-Cola.
- The cold colors are blue, green, indigo, and violet. Some of the associations there are sweetness, quietness, trust, confidence, or contemplation. You might note that oftentimes technology brands as Skype, IBM, Dell, HP, Intel, and others use blue color for branding as this color is used to help to increase trust towards the company.
- There are differences in the perception of colors between genders. The research by Natalia Khouw on “The Meaning of Color for Gender” found that men like gray, white or black than women, and that women pay attention to the combinations of red and blue more frequently, and got confused and distracted more than men. That’s such brands as Mercedes the target audience of which is mainly man, create a website in a combination of black, grey, and white colors.
- It’s also proven fact that the combination of red and blue was the most preferred color by adults. Pepsi takes as an advantage using these colors as brand ones.
Keep in mind the next colors meaning when designing your product interface:
- Red can symbolize both positive and negative feelings. Some of those are anger, love, confidence, and passion that before mentioned Coca-cola tries to call for.
- Orange seems to kindle excitement in most people. It’s one of the good UI colors that lots of companies use. For example, Fanta uses it as background color that attracts attention to the name.
- Yellow often symbolizes joy, happiness, and sunlight. That is very appropriate when speaking about social media networks, that’s why Snapchat uses this color in logo
- Blue means security, trust, and safety. Numerous studies show that blue has positive connotations for many different segments of the population. Blue is everywhere, including in many natural settings. Hundreds of prominent brands feature it, including Skype and Microsoft Word, and mentioned above companies.
- Green brings calm feelings of renewal. These emotions fit well with such brand as Tropicana that uses green as main logo color.
- Black signifies mystery, but it is also commonly associated with death and tragedy. Other times, it might mean modern or traditional.
- White usually means wholesomeness, clarity, purity, and innocence.
- Purple commonly brings about thoughts of wealth and royalty that the Asprey jewelry brand uses in its colors kit.
Here are tips on choosing the right color scheme for your UX/UI design:
- Analogous UI Color Schemes: This term refers to colors that are grouped near each other on the color wheel. Variety in analogous schemes often comes from saturation and brightness shifts. They work better than major hue changes.
- Complementary UI Color Schemes: This is an option that is based on the interplay of complementing cool and warm colors. They work well when they exist across from each other on color wheels. For this technique, some handy tools exist like Check My Color, Coolors.co, and Paletton.
Designing in grayscale before you add color makes a complex visual element much simpler. When you do it, it forces a layout of the elements and a renewed focus on spacing. When you’ve done some workshopping, you can start by selecting a single brand color. Then, choose other ones that would be appropriate.
Brand Personality Matched with the Right Color
All brands have personalities. You should carefully think about yours when you’re narrowing down your color palette. If your wish is for the consumers to relate to your brand, you can’t have colors that clash with what you’re trying to convey.
Research reveals that up to 85% of consumers feel the color is the most significant motivator in choosing a particular product.
Great brands don’t accidentally stumble across their color schemes. Think about the iconic red-and-yellow golden arches of McDonald’s line of restaurants. The yellow brings to mind happiness and the sun, while the red subtly reminds consumers about the beef hamburgers that are available inside.
Another example would be Home Depot. Earlier, we mentioned that orange brings about the excitement in many consumers. The simple orange-and-white design of the Home Depot logo lets customers know that they can find new technology inside, like top-of-the-line gas grills or riding mowers.
Look at the personality of your brand before you commit to color combinations. Think about the gender of customers who primarily use your products. Consider the tone you are trying to convey, the value proposition that you are putting forth, and how long you have been in business. Do you want to seem new and exciting, or time-tested and dependable?
You’re trying to understand the target audience as best you can, as well as the products you’re going to be selling to them. If you can do that, your chances are going to be better of landing on the proper color that can be emblematic of your business in the future. Your aim should be a simple UI design with colors that make sense.
As you are considering colors, tips on how to use them, and balance, remember the following. It’s a mistake to completely walk away from color combinations when you are doing UI interface design. Avoid overload and chaos in your design and bear in mind that minimalism is always better in UI. These next two rules should help.
The first is 6:3:1, also referred to as the Golden Rule when choosing colors. The principle of 60% + 30% + 10% represents the best proportion for reaching balance with your color selection.
This criterion works to perfection when you’re trying to produce a neat and harmonious interface. If done properly, the strategy will entice potential customers. The eye of the viewer will be eased. They can move naturally from one point in your design to the next.
The second rule is Max Three Primary Colors. This one is an ideal way to avoid making the visual too chaotic. It allows you to keep balance, especially when you combine it with the Golden Rule. For instance, try this for a logo:
- A neutral color for 60% of your design
- A secondary brand color for 30%
- 10% in your UI design should be your main brand color
Good user interface design makes use of both of these rules.
Here is an example of Amazon website design that uses 3 main colors: white for the background – 60%, blue for footer and header – 30%, and yellow for buttons and starts ratings – 10% that awake the users
attention for the right elements.
In this section below, I have observed multiple occurrences of texts being highlighted. Why is this?
Combinations and Complimentary Colors
When delivering a harmonious color scheme and a clean interface, consider the following factors.
- Shades, Tints, and Tones
Shadows are invaluable cues for leading the human brain to draw certain conclusions. You have a better chance of landing customers if you use them to your advantage. Shadow should be used as a way of subtly enhancing your main design elements.
Hues are what is needed to create variations using the color wheel. If you elect to add white, then a tint will be the result. You can also add black if you want a shade, or gray if you’re trying for a tone.
Create dark color variants through increasing saturation and turning down the brightness. If your product would be better served with brighter color variations, you must do the opposite.
Contrast is another form of UI design that is considered to be practical methodology. This is what you would employ if you were trying to devise a simple interface. It’s an easy way to evoke emotional user responses.
Colors that are on direct opposite sides of the wheel always produce the most notable contrast. Think about black and white look like when they’re next to each other. Strong contrast adds a sense of tension and gets the viewer to concentrate. Light contrast brings pleasurable, comfortable feelings. Use these if you’re going for a casual, relaxing design.
Saturation Overload Kills Color Vibrancy
Color saturation is what you have to look at if your aim is vibrancy. However, a scheme assembled around only highly saturated colors overwhelms the eye, and that means less vibrancy, not more.
With color, less is almost always more. A highly saturated color will be vibrant when used in tandem with less saturated ones that are effectively used in the Instagram logo.
Define Interactive Colors
Interactive colors are your tools of choice if you want interactive elements. Those might be links, buttons, or any other UI controls that users touch or click.
If you can, try to use only a single color for the purpose of primary interactions. That color will start to have one association for the user.
You can devise dark and light versions of the interactive color. Shades will help you convey different states for UI elements. A pressed or a hover state are examples.
Define Denotative Colors
Denotative colors have meaning. You’ll need to come up with a color scheme for states on your app or site, such as ones for error, success, and warning. The ones more commonly used for these purposes are red, black, and green.
Let’s say one of your brand colors is red. If so, don’t use that for error messages. When you choose the color for a disabled state, be positive that it has sufficient contrast. Users must be able to read it.
When choosing the right color for your UI toolkit, keep in mind the level of design accessibility of your color palettes and its contrast level. That helps people who are color blind to use your products easily. To make sure your colors palette is accessible, you can use some of the contrast checkers and design elements accessibility checkers like WebAIM, noCoffee, Accessibility Scanner. Don’t forget, the primary purpose is always to come up with a user-friendly interface.
The contrast and colors employed when designing user interface elements can have a huge impact on their accessibility to all end-users. Relying solely on color distinctions limits the ability of color blind individuals to use your product. Using light and dark colors combined with techniques such as cross-hatching to differentiate part of the interface make it more accessible for users with vision issues. This design mentality can result in more interesting and usable interfaces for all of your users.
Inspiration from Art and Nature
Nature and art are resources for color inspiration in UI concepts that you would be wise to use. For example, go outside, look at the grass, and observe the many shades of green. People like colors that seem natural. They have a user-friendly feel. Art can be seen as a direct reflection of nature. Because of this, you can draw on it for inspiration too. Here is an example might be the Evian brand logo that uses not only natural colors but natural design in its logo.
It should be evident now how much color in UI design matters. Never choose colors for your brand at random. The best user interface design is one where every color is chosen deliberately.
It never hurts to workshop color choices so your potential customers can give you feedback before you take something like a website or new company logo live. If you follow the best practices on colors usage in UI design that we’ve mentioned, there is no reason you can’t reach a new level of success for your brand.
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to become an expert in UX Design, Design Thinking, UI Design, or another related design topic, then consider taking an online UX course from the Interaction Design Foundation. For example, Design Thinking, Become a UX Designer from Scratch, Conducting Usability Testing or User Research – Methods and Best Practices. Good luck on your learning journey!