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Issue #5 • May 2017

Why Color Theory Matters for Bloggers (And how to use it)

Digital Marketing

Think about the first time you come across a new website. What are your first impressions of that site? Is it powerful, reliable, and trustworthy? Is it calming? Is it energizing?

Now, think about what gave you those impressions. Sure, the content probably played a role in getting to know the business behind the website, but have you ever thought about how the colors of that website can help set the tone for first impressions?

Color is the most immediate way of creating a good first impression online and in real life. People decide whether or not they like a product in 90 seconds or less. And 90% of that decision is based solely on color. In other words, color is very important.

Color communicates with your audience on an emotional level and sets the mood, attracts attention and makes a statement. Depending on the colors you choose, you could create a website that evokes youthfulness, stability, or elegance.

The right colors will also help you stand out from other bloggers. If better branding leads to more attraction, which leads to increased revenue, that means the right blog color scheme can also mean more money in your pocket.

But while color can be the most powerful design element, the challenge is to use color while giving your design (whether it’s your website or a new product) a unified and polished look. To understand how to reach this balance, you need to understand the basics of color theory.

What is color theory?

Color theory is sometimes referred to as the art and science of color and encompasses many different aspects of how we interact with color. It explains how humans perceive color, how colors mix, match or clash, the subliminal messages color communicates, and the methods used to replicate color.

While color theory is something that many people spend their lives studying, you don’t have to be a professional designer or color theorist to know how to put color to work for you. For today, I want to help you understand how you can use color theory to create a blog color scheme that matches your brand and mission.

The three categories of color theory you should know

The beginning of understanding color theory comes from understanding how colors relate to each other. Once you know how they interact, it’s easier to see which ones play well together and which ones wouldn’t make sense to match up. To start understanding this, you’ll need to know a little bit about the color wheel and color context and a lot about color harmony.

1. The color wheel

Color theory concept: color wheel

You’re probably most familiar with this first concept. I’m sure you’ve seen posters for the color wheel in your elementary school art class, so it’s a pretty easy place to start for color theory.

Basically, the color wheel is an illustration of the logically arranged color hues around a circle, and shows the relationships between primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (green, orange, purple), and tertiary colors (colors formed by mixing primary and secondary).

While there are many different variations of the color wheel, the standard idea of the wheel is the basis for color theory.

2. Color context

This next one is tricky. Color context is all about how color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes. That means the way we perceive color changes depending on what is around it.

For example, even though the color in the inner circle is the same throughout each set of three, it can seem to change apperance for us when we swap out different background colors.

Color theory concepts: color context

It’s one of the more complex aspects of color theory so you should be aware of it, but we’re not going to worry too much about it for the topic.

3. Color harmony

This final category is what you’ll really want to focus on as you’re choosing a blog color scheme. Color harmony is all about how to combine colors to create something that is pleasing to the eye. It’s what can either immediately engage a reader or completely turn them off.

But you can’t just start throwing colors together. There’s a rhyme and reason behind how colors work together and color harmony is how you can understand that balance. Here are the six schemes that make up color harmony:

Complementary-

Complementary colors are ones that are opposite each other on the wheel. The high contrast between complementary colors is what makes them look so vibrant when paired together. It’s best not to use them all over your blog, but they come in handy when you want something to stand out.

Color harmony: contemporary color scheme

Analogous-

Analogous colors are the ones next to each other on the wheel. The type of color scheme is used to create peaceful feeling designs like ones found in nature. When you use analogous colors, choose one to dominate, a second to support, and third for accent.

Color harmony: analogous color scheme

Triadic-

Triadic colors are three colors evenly spaced around the wheel like an equilateral triangle. This scheme is used to create a feel of vibrancy. If you use this scheme, make sure you’ve balanced them correctly on the color wheel and have one color dominate while the other two are used as accents.

Color harmony: triadic color scheme

Split-complementary-

A split-complementary scheme is a variation of the complementary scheme, but instead of using only one color as a compliment, you use two colors next to each other on the wheel to compliment your main color. By using this scheme, you create a little less tension than the complementary scheme. Because of this, it’s a good choice to start with.

Color harmony: split contemporary color scheme

Rectangle-

The rectangle or tetradic color scheme uses four colors arranged into two pairs of complementary colors. Because it’s made of two complementary pairs, a tetradic scheme can be overwhelmingly vibrant. If you choose to use this scheme, pick one dominant color and let the others support it.

Color harmony: rectangle color scheme

Square-

The square scheme is similar to the rectangle, but all four colors are evenly spaced around the wheel…like a square. Use it like you would the rectangle scheme by choosing one dominant color and the others as support.

Color harmony: square color scheme

How to choose a blog color scheme

Now it’s time to put all those color schemes to work, but it’s not as easy as just picking one color and running with it. The colors you use can affect someone’s first impression of your brand which is why you need to think past just using your favorite color. You need to think about the perception other people will have of your brand and how they will interact with it. The main goal is to find a blog color scheme that enhances your mission.

There are many different aspects and processes to work through to get the right blog color scheme. So as you begin your brainstorming, here are couple steps to follow to make sure you find the right colors:

Step 1: Choose a mood

Before you actually start searching and investigating the colors for your blog, your first step is to narrow in on a mood you want to set. By doing this, you’re setting the tone for the rest of the design. Knowing how you want your readers to feel when they come to your site will help you make each design decision from here on out.

Take some time and write down adjectives that describe the mood. Will your site be calm and inviting? Exciting and energized? Strong and empowered? Reliable? Contemplative?

Once you have an idea of the mood you want to set, you can start getting a general idea of what colors can help convey that mood. These aren’t strict rules to follow, but it’s good to be aware that each color has it’s own connection to evoking specific emotions.

For example, just because you’re running a financial blog doesn’t mean you need everything to be green because it makes your reader think about money. If that were true, all financial blogs would be green and nobody wants that.

Here’s a chart of color psychology to help you understand how your color choice can affect your readers..

Color psychology

Step 2: Look at your existing design elements

The second step is take to stock of all the design resources you currently have. Depending on the project, that could mean a logo or other pre-existing branding, graphics, and other images. Often times, you might find that a photo can be the inspiration for your whole color scheme.

How to choose a color scheme: color picking

Pulling these elements together can help you start to see patterns and color schemes that might already exist or how you need to change direction for your mood setting, find new elements or alter your elements to fit your mood.

Step 3: Choose your dominant color

As in most things, the concept of less is more is very relevant for design and your blog color scheme. Once you’ve decided on which color harmony you’d like to use for your project, it’s important to stick to the rule of choosing one dominant color with one or two accent colors. By doing this, you’ll stay away from a multi-colored mess of distraction. It will also help you create hierarchy, establish a unified design, and can direct your reader’s eye to the most important information on your site.

Best uses for your dominant color:

  • Logo
  • Menu tabs
  • Call to Action button
  • Highlighting important information
  • Titles and headlines
  • Buttons

Best uses for your accent color:

  • Current menu tab (to show the reader which tab they are on)
  • Subtitles
  • Highlighting secondary information
  • Scroll buttons

Step 4: Add in shades and tints

If you do find that you need an extra color or two, you might add in shades or tints of your dominant color. This will give you more variety to choose from while not taking away from the scheme you’ve set out to use.

how to choose a color scheme: shades & tints

Step 5: Find the right tools to help you test and set up your blog color scheme

As usual, there are many sites and tools online that can help you create the right color scheme. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Adobe Kuler- You can generate an entire color scheme from one base color with Adobe Kuler. All you need to do is upload a photo to start extracting colors. It also integrates with Creative Suite apps and gives you downloadable palettes for sharing.
  • Colors on the Web– This tool accepts a color in RGB and gives you a set of schemes based on different mathematical equations.
  • Coolors.co– With this tool you just hit the spacebar and it generates a new theme. Simply click the lock to lock a color in place and change the other colors around it. If you have one main brand color already this will be useful as you can put it in, lock it, then hit the spacebar for ideas of accent and complementary colors.
  • COLOURlovers- This site is a creative community where people from around the world create and share colors, palettes and patterns and discuss the latest trends.
  • Colorable– This tool checks the contrast between foreground and background color and allows you to adjust the colors.

What blog color scheme fits your brand?

After reading through this article, do you think you’re ready to find a color scheme that helps promote your brand and mission? Or do you think might need to redesign your website? If this blog post helped you understand how important color is for your business, please share with a friend!

 

Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

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