Color Harmony in Web Design
When designing a website, one of the first questions that comes to mind is "what color
scheme will I use?". The choice of colors for your website is very important because the
first message a visitor to your website receives is the psychological message that color
communicates. One color scheme can communicate a message of conservative trust, while
a different color scheme can send a message of risk and instability.
Color gives the visitor an impression of your business and your product. If you design
a website to sell calming and healing herbs, should you use a bright red and yellow color
scheme, or a pale pink and green color scheme? Colors in harmony will be pleasing to the
eye and create a sense of balance. Colors not in harmony will be unpleasant to look at and
will create a sense of chaos.
To choose an effective color scheme for your website requires a basic understanding of
color theory. In this article you'll learn about the two different color systems used with
computers, how colors are organized into a "color wheel", and how colors can be adjusted
using tints, shades, and saturation. Then you'll learn how to select colors that don't
clash but are in harmony together.
Finally you'll learn how to choose a color scheme that is in agreement with the purpose
of your website. You'll learn to design a color scheme that communicates a message that
increases the effectiveness of your website.
The Physics of Color
When you drop a rock into a pool of water, you see an expanding circle
of concentric waves moving out from the point where the rock hit the
water. You might notice that when a wave hits the edge of the pool, it bounces
or reflects back. This is an example of a simple mechanical wave.
Our universe is full of another kind of wave composed of interacting
electric and magnetic fields. These waves are called "electromagnettic
waves". If you measured the distance between the crests of two waves in
our pool example, this would be called the "wave length".
Electromagnetic waves have wave lengths ranging from an infinitesimally
small 1/100,000 of an angstrom for gamma rays, to an enormous 100,000
kilometers for radio waves. Only a tiny slice of the electromagnettic
spectrum is visible to the human eye.
When light waves enter our eye, the color that we perceive depends upon
the wave length of the light. The shorter wave lengths, around 400
nanometers, appear as violet. AS the wave length increases, the colors
go from blue, to green, to yellow, as in the familiar rainbow. The
longest wave length visible to the human eye, around 700 nanometers,
appears as red.
A prism separates white light into bands of colors
In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton observed that when a beam of white light is
passed through a prism, it separates into bands of colors. From this he
determined that white light is actually a mixture of all the colors of
the spectrum. Newton defined a color system based on three primary
colors red, yellow, and blue. All other colors can be derived from these
three primary colors. Because Sir Isaac's color system is derived from
the natural light spectrum, it is the color system used by artists today.