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Web Site Cookbook by Doug Addison

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3.2. Creating a Color Scheme

Problem

You need to select colors for your site's background, text, links, and other elements.

Solution

Choosing a color scheme for a site might be the most subjective task confronting a web designer. Of the nearly infinite number of color combinations at your disposal, there are certainly more than a few right ones for your site, as well as many wrong ones.

Choosing the right colors can have a big impact on how your site is received by visitors, while the wrong combination can just as easily repel them. But differentiating right from wrong has less to do with opting for, say, a shade of light purple over a shade of light green, than it has to do with choosing a palette of colors that supports your design and the goals of your site.

With that in mind, follow this checklist when developing a color scheme for your site:

Follow the lead of the materials you already have.

Your favorite color may be flaming red-orange, but you'll have to hide your light under a bushel if your project already has an existing logo or offline material that employs an orange-free color scheme. Using a web design project to branch out visually from an established color scheme will cause credibility issues for your site. Don't shock visitors with a color scheme that bears no resemblance to the other "touch points" by which they know you—be it your catalog, your packaging, your delivery vehicles, the neon sign in your store front window, or something else.

Use a background color that does ...

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