Color Theory in Web Design

Any artist handling aesthetics is surely aware of the color theory. Its first principles were defined during the 1400’s by artists like Leonardo Da Vinci or Leone Battista Alberti. However, it was only during the 18th century when it began to develop into an independent artistic practice, when Isaac Newton’s theory of color was firstly published (Opticks, 1704). Since then it started to be successfully incorporated into a lot of visual sciences, including web design. Across history, due to their emotional response, artists have gained the adulation of the masses, solely due to their ability to manipulate colors. In modern times, this art form steps up to polish and improve user interaction with private or commercial web applications, web sites and even advertising. In web design, the color theory may be simplified and broken down into three main parts:


Representing the subtle differences in brightness and color, the contrast is the most important factor for making visual objects stand out from the background. Its mark on web design is quite significant as the most successful websites display a delicate, well-chosen balance making them pop out in the eyes of their visitors. Online color wheels do wonders when inspiration in this department is scarce.


Exactly like the term, vibrancy stands for a way a particular color resonates in the eyes of the viewer. Each color is supposed to bring specific moods to the surface. While brighter, warmer colors favor increased energy and alertness, colder colors tend to relax the audience. These tricks are widely used by web designers everywhere to enhance and match user experience to the content of the site.


This notion speaks of the relationship between colors and of the way they merge, in order to create a pleasant environment for the eyes of the audience. When looking at the color wheel, they can be easily spotted as being opposites. A good color complementation can make or break any visual creation and requires good taste and extended experience.

Our place in the history of art has been continuously shaped by artistic color theorists and cannot unfortunately be broken down into one single article. Written for beginners who try to learn formal color principles, this article is merely an overview on the appliance of color in web design. Individual, in-depth study must follow in order to fully master this great art. Commonly underrated, the science of color must be learned starting with its core principles. Choosing a perfect color scheme for your web design project can be a tricky task. Make sure you use a color wheel, online tools and all your practical senses if you want your creation to stand out.