Web design has come a long way since the inception of the internet over 30 years ago. What started as a way to share information around the world, resulted in the rise of arguably the most important invention in the 20th century. 

Early website designs were very linear, consisting primarily of large bodies of text and hyperlinks arranged in a vertical layout with few, if any graphics. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s when the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was created, that allowed designers to integrate graphics and icons into the fabric of the website itself. Eventually, tables were introduced and became a popular way of laying out website elements, emulating the look of printed documents and editorials. 

Fast forward to today, progressions in web technology and efficient coding have paved the way for more intricate website designs with interactive elements, 3D designs, parallax scrolling, adaptive graphic elements, and endless customization options.

However, despite advances in web design, one thing that remains the same is the foundation of those designs are based on, one of which is the use of color. How colors are applied on the page design, their influence on the user experience (UX), as well as the overall feel and impression that they leave on visitors. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at color theory and how it impacts your visitor’s experience.

Color Theory

Within the context of website design, the color theory involves three main components, namely contrast, complementation, and vibrancy.
These components govern how colors are perceived by our brains and how we process them visually.

Color Contrast in website design


Contrast refers to the shade of color that is opposite to a particular color. For example, shades of yellow would find its contrast in blues, while shades of red would contrast with greens. These are easily identifiable when referring to a color diagram or color wheel, where the contrasts are on the exact opposite ends of the color wheel. As we’ll mention below, contrasting colors can complement each other when used moderately.


Complementation refers to colors that accent each other. The most complementary colors are found on opposite sides of the color wheel, which naturally contrasts each other. Complementary colors are ideal for logos, or bring attention to banners or buttons. However, they should be avoided for text due to their high contrast.

Color Complementation as one of the color theory
Color Vibrancy as Color and Emotions Theory


Vibrancy refers to the intensity, or the perceived brightness of colors to our eyes. Certain shades of colors have higher vibrancy than others, making them feel warmer such as shades of orange, yellows and red. Designers can leverage this to draw attention to a certain page element by using the vibrant shade of those colors, or evoke a warm vibe by using its more subdued shade.

Color schemes

In addition to color theory, web designers also make use of certain color schemes to illustrate websites. Color schemes are the primary set of colors that designers use within the main areas of the website, such as the heading, background, and the various page elements. 

While the textual content and images may be the first things that visitors notice on a website, the color schemes are what determine their subconscious feel and mood as they browse through the site. Hence, the importance of choosing these colors wisely. The following are commonly used set of color schemes that have been proven effective for web design:

Triadic as one of the color schemes


The most fundamental and reliable set of color schemes are the triadic colors. As the name suggests, this involves the use of three colors that are located 120 degrees from each other in a color wheel. The three colors will determine the background, the content and page elements, such as buttons, headers and navigational menus. 


Add a fourth color to the triadic set, and you’ll have the compound scheme. The fourth color is usually reserved for brand-specific colors that have been requested to be included, but can also be a complementary color to add more vibrancy to the website.

Compound as one of the color schemes
Analogous as one of the color schemes


The analogous color scheme makes use of purely complementary colors, such as red, orange and yellow, or green, blue and navy. This naturally increases the vibrancy, and highlights the colors that are chosen for this scheme. It should be chosen wisely, as it will dramatically alter the mood and tone of the website. For example, a yellow analogous color scheme will seem energetic, while a blue one illustrates a more sophisticated feel for the users. 

What did you think of the idea behind the color schemes and emotions theory we shared in this article? 

We hope it has given you insight on its application on website design, and its impact on your browsing experience. Keep those in mind the next time you’re surfing the web!

Do you need a stunning website for your business? Consult your ideas with our creative team at Island Media Management.

About the author



Tio is an aspiring creative writer with keen attention to detail and narrative. His work across multiple disciplines makes him a proficient and versatile writer competent in crafting content in a wide range of fields.

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