Color Theory and Its Role in UI Design

There are many elements of a website’s UI or user interface. These include:

  • input controls, like buttons or icons, text fields, checkboxes, and dropdown lists
  • navigational components, like navigation bars, scroll arrows, and accordion menus
  • informational cues, like progress bars, tool tips, and loading screens

In all of these UI design features, colors and color theory play a crucial role beyond aesthetics. With websites being largely visual communication tools, color can exert a big influence on a user’s purchase behaviors, emotions, and even their perception of your brand.

This is why it’s a good idea to avail of web design services in the Philippines to help you craft not just a visually pleasing website, but also an effective one. Remember that while you can certainly incorporate your favorite colors in a design, it’s not always going to complement what you’re trying to achieve.

With all that being said, here are some key things to understand about colors and color theory along with the roles they play in website UI design:

Brand Recognition

Using colors wisely and consistently on your website can help you establish your brand in the digital space. A good example here is Apple, whose brand colors are white, silver/gray, and black. When you visit their website, you’ll immediately notice that these three are the most dominant colors in the layout. There may be other colors present, such as when they’re showing a phone or laptop screen, but the brand colors still take up a large percentage of the design.

Being strategic about when and where to use your brand colors is also crucial. Google’s colors are red, blue, green, and yellow but, unlike Apple, you don’t see these all over every page. Rather, colors are present in the most important elements like the icons on the search bar. The same can be said about Facebook. The social media platform itself doesn’t contain much of the color, but the icons, buttons, and highlights are all in that iconic blue.

Readability and Accessibility

Two of the biggest things you need to pay attention to when designing a website’s UI are readability and accessibility. Both of these concerns can be addressed by using the right colors. Essentially, the rule is to use light text over a dark background and vice versa. It can seem boring at first, but keep in mind that it says “light over dark” and not “white over black.” In short, you have a lot more choices to work with.

What’s more important to focus on is contrast. This allows even those with vision problems, like astigmatism and color blindness, to use your website with ease.

There are also times when color is not the best element to use to communicate a detail. Going by the above example, a person who is color blind may not be able to correctly follow an instruction that says “Please fill out the spaces in green.” As previously mentioned, you should know when and where to apply colors. In this case, you might want to use textual or visual cues like “Please fill out all the spaces with an asterisk.”

Conveying Meanings and Emotions

The study of color psychology focuses on how certain colors can influence human behavior, perceptions, and emotional responses. This is why red is often associated with passion, blue is perceived to be a  color of trustworthiness, and green is linked with growth or health.

That said, it’s also important to note that the influence of color on a person may differ slightly, based on the person’s age, gender, and/or cultural background. As such, some people might not see red as passionate but rather violent. In the same vein, men might view black as evocative of mystery or authority but women may associate it more with sophistication and seriousness.

As such, you and your web designer should work together to understand your target audience. This way, you can properly incorporate color theory and ensure that you can communicate what you want to communicate.

Harmony and Natural Flow

Last but certainly not least, color theory is an important component in making UI design look more cohesive. You want something that has a harmonious blend of colors, not something chaotic. Using the right colors can also help your website’s visitors navigate the site intuitively. Their eyes will be guided naturally towards where you want them to look, whether that’s the new service you’re offering or the checkout button.

A good theory to follow is the 60-30-10 ratio in choosing colors. This proportion means 60% of the site’s color should be neutral, 30% should serve as a complement, and 10% should be the accent. These numbers can also be applied as such: 60% neutral, 30% secondary brand color, and 10% primary brand color. When combined, these principles can result in a seamless, organized UI design.

Having a website for your brand is a necessity nowadays, if you want to achieve business growth. However, making a website isn’t that simple. You need to be smart and strategic about its UI design, so that you can achieve what you want it to achieve. Take note of these details about colors and color theory to help you as you work with your preferred web designer.

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