Color 101 – Create Professional Color Palettes

by on July 7, 2016 · 0 comments

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Color is used in nearly every project on the web and has a big impact on your final project.  With 16.8 million colors to choose from, constructing a palette can seem overwhelming.  With a little bit of color knowledge you can create professional and stunning color palettes time and again.  Palettes that will make your job easier and your customer impressed.

What We Covered in Color 101

In Color 101 we explored the basics of using color on the web. Our discussion included the terms used to describe color, how to use the color wheel and color schemes to create more professional color palettes, and the meanings associated to colors.  We specifically covered the following topics:

  • Color Vocabulary
  • Color Wheel
  • Color Schemes
  • Psychology of Color


In the class I covered a number of color definitions.  Choosing to define concepts most important to working with color as it pertains to display devices – computer displays, tablets, mobile devices, etc.

Here are some highlights from the Color 101 E2W Experts class:

Color Wheel:

A color wheel is an abstract illustration of color around a circle. The wheel simply shows the relationships between the colors.  The color wheel contains the 12 standard colors used to create color schemes.  Each section of the wheel represents a unique family of colors.

Color Schemes:

Color schemes are created by combining multiple color families from the color wheel.  The four main color schemes that are widely used by designers are described below:

Monochromatic  –  a monochromatic color scheme is made up of various shades, tints and saturations of a single color. They are easy to create and provide a very cohesive look. Using only colors from a monochromatic color scheme can lead to the design being boring or repetitious.

Analogous  –  Analogous color schemes consists of three colors that sit next to each other on the traditional color wheel. The three colors of an Analogous color scheme will have similarities that will create an appealing aesthetic and provide more variety than a monochromatic color scheme.

Triadic  –  Triadic color schemes contain 3 colors equally spaced around the around the traditional 12 spoke color wheel.  Triadic color schemes offer the designer a lot of varied color options for their project while retaining a nice balance between colors.

Complementary  –  complementary color schemes combine colors that are direct opposites on the color wheel. A basic complementary scheme will contain only two colors. You can use shades and tints of both colors to build out the other colors of the palette.

E2W Pro-tip: Using complementary colors next to each other can sometimes lead to an unappealing visual effect. You can use a transitional color between them to avoid this.

Psychology of Color:

To make the best use of color, it is important to consider that people associate meanings or feelings to specific colors. Understanding the meaning and tone behind each color can help you to bolster the message of your project.

Blue: –  blue can evoke thoughts of spirit, perspective, control, rescue, determination, self-sufficient, modern, aware, purposeful, open, ambitious, tropical, cooling, and calming.

E2W Pro-tip: Be aware that sometimes darker hues of blue can be associated with sadness or depression.

Red:  –  Red conveys passion, activity, and excitement.  It can also mean bold, energetic, youthful, physical, pioneering, leader, ambition, and power.

E2W Pro-tip:  Pairing red with other colors can help to change the context as well. For example combining red with whites and golds can evoke the feelings of love and passion.


Understanding the basics of color and how to properly use them for projects on the web is essential to your success as a designer. Knowing the fundamentals of color will elevate your other skills and expand your choices when designing your projects.

The high seas of internet freelancing can be hard to navigate. Enjoy smooth sailing by joining the crew of the Expand2Web Experts group and gain instant access to our library of previous classes by clicking here:

Already a member of the Expand2Web crew?  We’d love to hear what destination on the internet seas you’d like to explore next!

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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