Why Colour Theory is so Important for Web Design

Colourful Design Woman

One of the first thing any web designer considers when creating a new website is which colour scheme they are going to use. This is because colour is fundamental to a website’s design. It is the first thing a visitor notices, and it makes a big impression. Colour can even impact the success of a website, influencing return users, click rate, duration and more. As a result it is very important to be aware of colour theory and how it can help you make the most of your website’s colour scheme. Here are some of the basics you need to know:

The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is the basis for colour theory. Most of us have seen one before but can’t really explain what it is or how it functions. The purpose of the wheel is to illustrate the organisation of colours based on the relationship between them. The centre of the wheel is comprised of the primary colours red, blue and yellow. Between those you add the secondary colours, green, orange and purple, and you work out from there. Two common wheels are the elementary colour wheel, which has 12 colours, and the 24 hues colour wheel, which is more detailed.

A colour wheel can be divided into two basic categories, warm colours such as yellow, orange, red, and cool colours such as blue, green, and purple. Warm colours are energising whereas cool colours are calming. When choosing your colours you want to consider the atmosphere and effect you’d like the website to have.

3 Basic Terms of Colour Theory


Contrast reduces eyestrain and draws attention by clearly differentiating elements on a page and making it easy for users to know what to focus on. Think vibrant or intense colours/shades like red, black, paired with lighter shades and hues like whites and pastels.


Complementation is the way you see colour in relation to other colours. Complementary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel, like blue and orange. They enhance each other, but not in the same way as contrast. They provide a gentler balance.


Vibrancy affects the emotional impact of your design. Brighter colours energise the user and are good for promoting products and encouraging involvement. Darker shades relax the user and create a sense of reliability and comfort, which is good for presenting content that provides services and support.

Combining Colours

Successfully combining colours on the colour wheel to make an effective scheme is a very careful and deliberate process. You can read in depth about colour combination theory, but here are a few of the most successful combinations you want to know about:


This is about as simple as it gets. Complementary colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel. Use of complementary colours can highlight elements and makes for a lively design, although it is often helpful to add a neutral colour like grey or beige into the mix.

Triadic Colour Scheme

The triadic colour scheme refers to the use of three different colours at separate ends of a colour scheme. You choose the base colour on the wheel, draw an equilateral triangle and the three points of triangle form your colour scheme. This combination ensure colours have equal vibrancy and complement each other well.

Hopefully this blog showed you how important colour theory is to web design and was a helpful introduction on how to use it when designing the colour scheme for your next website.

Illicit Web Design understands the importance of building a website which catches the eye, functions smoothly, and represents your business well. To find out more about how we can help you develop your website, contact us. We’re always happy to help.