Why Color Theory Is Your Friend

By Leora Wenger of Websites for Small Biz

color wheel

You know how to write. You have taken various English classes, you have used a thesaurus, you have edited your friends’ papers. Why would you need to know anything about color theory? Isn’t knowing how to write good enough?

Let’s start with what you don’t want to do with your blog.

  • Use a blue font on a black background.
  •  Choose a busy background with many different bright colors.
  •  Pick two opposite colors (say, red and green) as the main colors of your site.

Why? Because consciously or unconsciously, readers will get irritated and not want to read your content. In contrast, learn a little about color theory. Take a look at the color wheel, and note which colors are opposite one another. Rarely do green and red or blue and orange work well on a website.

How to make the colors of your blog page work in your favor.

  • Choose a color palette. There are fun websites that can help you make color choices:  Colour LoversColor BlenderKuler by Adobe.
  • Whenever possible, use black as the color and white as the background for a body of text. This doesn’t mean you can’t use color at all, but use it for areas of the page that are not the main content. Images often look great on a black or dark background, but light text on a dark background is hard to read. If you want to use two contrasting colors, you might want to test the colors with this tool: Colour Contrast Check.
  • Rethink fancy link colors. I had used red as a link color on one of my blogs; a reader who is colorblind told me he found the link hard to differentiate from the text. I have since switched on that blog to bright blue, which is more standard as a link color.
  • When choosing an image for a post, do its colors work with the overall color scheme? If you find your post images are often clashing with your blog background, you might want to choose a simpler blog background.
  • Learn about color associations. For example, blue subconsciously implies security. Green is often earthy, and purple signifies royalty. You can learn more about color choices from this post on color theory and the meaning of color.

Can you remember any sites that had an awful use of colors? Any sites with colors that worked smoothly and beautifully? Unless you are purposely looking for well-designed sites, you may not even notice that the designer chose colors that work together.


About Leora: Leora Wenger builds websites for small businesses, libraries and three Rutgers University departments. She loves tweaking PHP, composing a striking web design, stretching WordPress, and publicizing sites. In her spare time she’s a mom, wife and daughter. Every now and then she squeezes in the time to paint a watercolor or two.

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0 thoughts on “Why Color Theory Is Your Friend

  1. My blog used to have a navy background (because I love navy blue) and the text was white. Leora suggested a change and it certainly was for the better. I’d never dream of going back to the old layout.

  2. Leora – Nice to read your post here. Black text on a white background is my favorite, however what do you think about the reddish/maroonish header text colors that I have on my site? Favorable?

  3. There are two things that make me want to click away from a blog. 1. painful-to-the-eye colors/color combination and 2. very poor grammar and punctuation. 

    I often wonder what people are thinking when I see crazy colors on their site! 🙂

    • I agree with you, Liz. I assume that people are trying to make something that will “get noticed” when they create sites like that — if they only realized it was driving people away with a quickness!

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