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Springtime > Color Palettes for Web Sites

Color Palettes for Web Sites

As you build color palettes for your own projects, you’ll want to keep these color issues in mind. Along with knowing your message, you’ll need a sense of your audience’s expectations in order to come up with a range of palettes that suit your needs.

Study the Audience

It’s the golden rule of communication: Know your audience. Because the human psyche, one’s cultural perceptions, and one’s gender all play a role in how color is perceived, it’s necessary to understand your audience prior to determining a color scheme. In some cases, color associations are so broad as to be appropriate for all groups. This would include designs with a lot of blue, brown, or—as is true for Springtime—green.

Note

Before launching a design, it’s a good idea to create a number of test palettes. You can do this quite easily in Adobe Photoshop (FIGURE 2). Create an empty document and, using the Color Picker, add colors to a strip, seeing how they mix and match. You can then set up a test document to apply your colors using CSS.

Figure 2. Building a color palette in Photoshop.


CSS is helpful in the prototyping phase of the design process: You can create several style sheets relating to each of your test palettes and apply the color to the test document. You can even set this up as part of a usability study, in which you deliver different color schemes to your subjects and then gauge their responses.


Color expert J. L. Morton, whose site is mentioned earlier in this chapter, suggests that designers stick as close to expected relationships as possible. If the site is for children, the use of colors that express joy can be very handy. If you are expressing elegance, black and silver can be an excellent combination in the United States. If you are appealing to men, generally speaking, lots of blue is always good. If you are appealing to women, reds and pinks are likely to be more appropriate than blue. If you’re designing a nature site or one celebrating nature, the use of greens, blues, and browns make sense.

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