Thanks for your excellent question!
Color plays a pivotal role in a website's impact, and as such must be
carefully considered. This is especially crucial when the site in
question is used for business/professional purposes.
Before delving into the specifics of color selection for professional
sites, here are a few general rules for color usage in websites:
- Don't use yellow for web page backgrounds - it causes eyestrain
- Avoid black backgrounds - these essentially limit text color choice
to white and yellow, which can look garish and hard on the eyes
- If in doubt, use black text on white background - while not very
original, this color combination ensures optimal readability. In any
case, choose a text color that constrasts with your background; this
is usually best achieved with dark text on a light background.
- Choose from the 216 "browser-safe" colors, codes for which can be found at
< http://www.wordnet.net/imc/palette.htm >. If you stray outside these
standard colors, your website colors may be distorted on some users'
With that quick primer behind us, let's talk business websites.
To lend a professional, organic appearance to your website, your best
bet is to choose a simple palette of a few matching colors. Advanced
Media Productions suggests limiting yourself to three colors, and
using these colors strategically to group related objects or indicate
relationships between objects or segments of the page
BuildStar Business Builder's Network
(http://www.ibuildstar.com/colors.htm) has a similar philosophy,
urging the business website designer to "create an identity through
all your marketing and products with one or two colors you use over
and over. This is a very basic and effective way to tie all your stuff
together in the minds of customers."
If you're not good at color coordinating, it's a good idea to consult
a color wheel such as that found at < http://www.visibone.com/colorlab
>. Complementary colors (that is, those found directly across from
each other on the color wheel - e.g. red and green) are safe choices,
as are neighboring shades. Which of these you choose, however, depends
on what mood you choose to evoke - the contrast of complementary
colors like orange and blue suggests excitement, while neighboring
colors like green and blue suggest unity and harmony.
According to one website, using different shades of the same color,
called the monolithic approach, is the superior choice for
professional website color schemes. The writer asserts that "single
colors or Monoliths work best for business sites because of their more
subtle suggestion," but cautions that this approach can be boring if
overdone and may require "adding a contrasting black [to make] the
color combo monochromatic and more interesting."
But how do you choose the best starting color to work from? An
important consideration in choosing the foundation color for your
website is the emotional association it typically carries. While these
associations can vary somewhat from culture to culture, they generally
hold true for the majority of people. Here's a quick snapshot:
Red: Daring, persuasive. Also hard on the eyes. Red is especially
effective in highlighting key text on black and white sites, and also
works to liven up browns and tans.
Blue: Suggests quality, trustworthiness, success, seriousness,
calmness. A common choice for sales pages. In "What is the color of
your website?", Andrew Lapointe suggests highlighting phrases like
"Our history" or "Our mission statement" in blue
also suggests avoiding purple, which connotes uncertainty and
ambiguity, and only using yellow to highlight key words and phrases.
Pam Renovato, in "The Psychology of Color and Internet Marketing"
has some interesting comments on the use of grays and browns:
"They suggest weight, or something heavy. This would provide your
visitors with a feeling of stableness and strength. Emotions like this
will help your visitors to associate your site with solidity and
confidence. Other colors such as burgundy, oyster, beige, blues will
also provide a feeling of solidity."
Another important factor is the age of the target audience. Neutral
tones work best with sites designed for an older audience, the target
demographic for many business websites. You'll obviously also want to
select shades appropriate to your business, if any - as Ralph Hilliard
points out in "How to choose your web site colors"
web designer who creates a black and green website for the Red Cross
will be out of business quickly. Hillard further stresses the
importance of color selection in marketing:
"The BEST color for selling is the color that captures your primary
audience emotionally," he posits. "If my audience is new mothers and
I'm selling baby clothes, I guarantee you I can sell more clothes with
soft pinks, blues and purples than I could using bright reds, greens
When it comes down to it, choosing a professional website color scheme
is as simple as the common sense guideline provided at the 1stsitefree
Design tutorial (http://www.1stsitefree.com/design_colors.htm): "Use
colors that compliment your subject matter and are relatively pleasing
to the eye."
It seems, then, that classic, rich, conservative, "serious" colors
like blues, browns, burgundies and grays are your best bets for
On a final note, however, there's always an exception that breaks all
the rules; according to "Website Colors That Sell" at the BuildStar
Business Builder's Network (http://www.ibuildstar.com/colors.htm),
"one study showed that the color combination with the most powerful
psychological effect was yellow title, white text, on a dark blue
Here's a final link for you:
Cobalt Multimedia - Choosing colors for your website
< http://www.cobaltsystems.com/advice/colortips.html >
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I'd be happy to provide any clarification you may require. All the best!