Creating a cohesive colour palette for your DIY website can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. Colour is one of the most powerful elements of your visual identity. So, it may feel like there is a lot riding on your selections. This post will help you to find the clarity and direction you need to move forward when it comes to selecting such an important aspect of your brand and online presence.
Colour has the power to evoke emotion, convey particular messages and solidify the entire direction and aesthetic of your brand. Colours impact everyone, regardless of what they are being used for – creating your website, designing a book, decorating an interior. Therefore, when it comes to DIY’ing your website, choosing a colour palette is not a step to be taken to lightly. Remember, you only get one chance at a first impression.
Colour psychology can and should contribute to the decision-making process as you create a visual identity for your business. It is quite a complex subject so I’m not going to go into it too much now.
However, if you want to learn more about the power colour psychology, two of my favourite books are ‘How to Style Your Brand’ by Fiona Humberstone and ‘Design with Colour and Style’ by Shaynna Blaze. Both of these books explain the concept of colour psychology in a really simple, yet effective way so you can easily apply it to your business.
Once you understand the concept of colour psychology you can use it to your advantage to increase your conversion rate, develop an edge over your competition and convey your messages to your audience to more effectively meet their needs.
I am dividing this post into 3 main sections: Getting Started, Finding Inspiration and Structuring Your Colour Palette.
1. Getting Started
Before you start thinking about colours, there is one key step you must complete.
As I have already mentioned, colour has the power to evoke emotion, persuade and influence responses. Remember, that this not about manipulating your customers into buying something that they don’t want or need.
In essence, the concept of colour theory is about conveying messages to your audience to more effectively meet their wants and needs. In turn, this helps to build your brand.
With that said, the very first thing you must determine is exactly how you want your audience to feel when they come across your website. Now, this isn’t simply about creating a visual identity that “feels” calm or welcoming or playful.
This is about firstly identifying exactly who you are speaking to. Once you have a crystal clear idea of your dream client, then you need to determine the specific problem they are experiencing along with the outcome they wish to experience. Once you have these components in place, you need to outline the transformation required to get them from point A (their current situation) to point B (their desired situation).
Getting clear on these points will allow you to come up with a list of emotions based on the transformation you are providing to your dream clients. These emotions can then form the foundation of your visual identity.
2. Finding Inspiration
The second step in creating a cohesive colour palette is to find inspiration. Your brand is about you as an individual as well as the vision you have for your business.
For your brand to connect with your audience though, it should also be about the needs, wants and inspirations of the people that you would like to attract. With that said, it is sometimes important to think outside the square when it comes to finding inspiration.
As you’re probably fully aware of by now, Pinterest is an incredible source of inspiration for just about anything and everything. It’s not really a social media platform, but a visual search engine filled with beautiful imagery, informative articles and handy tips and tricks.
There are many amazing colour palettes on Pinterest – search Design Seeds to find out what I mean. Instead of searching for your palettes, search for imagery of interiors, architecture, travel destinations. This will ensure that your colour palette is unique.
Having a browse through your wardrobe can provide much-needed inspiration for your colour palette. Whether you realise it or not, you choose colour schemes each and every day. Your wardrobe colours represent your personal style, your individuality. Clothing colours can have a major impact on your mood. The same goes for your brand’s colour palette.
Drawing inspiration from your own wardrobe can be slightly tricky. You need to be careful that your colour palette is ultimately based on your dream clients wants and needs rather than your own personal preferences.
When you look at your wardrobe, you may see an overflow of neutrals or “pops” of a particular colour that you adore. It is important to ask yourself how your dream client would react to these same colour schemes. Your style may be completely different from that of your dream clients.
Get Out and About
One of the best ways to find inspiration (I personally think) is to get out of your usual environment. Inspiration is truly everywhere, you just have to look for it.
From towering skyscrapers to the colour scheme of your favourite coffee shop, getting out allows you to see things from a different perspective. And as an added bonus, you’ll get some fresh air and Vitamin D.
For your brand to connect on an emotional level, it must reflect the needs, wants and inspirations of your audience. I know I keep repeating myself, but this is really key to establishing a strong connection.
Again, consider the personality traits of your ideal client. What will appeal to them in terms of your brand’s aesthetic and overall vibe?
3. Structuring Your Colour Palette
Once you have sourced some inspiration and you have an idea of the style and aesthetic you would like to create, the next step is to work out the structure of your colour palette.
As a general rule, I recommend choosing 4-5 colours for your palette. Using too many colours in your colour palette could potentially overwhelm your audience and create confusion in terms of your brand messaging. Remember, less is more.
To create a cohesive colour palette, I suggest including one neutral, one bold colour and two additional colours which support the overall vibe that you want to create for your brand. When you have a bold colour palette, you want to offset it with white as much as you can. White is your friend and using it to your advantage will help you to create a clean and professional style.
Always keep in mind how colour psychology can impact the messages you send to your audience. It has been suggested that we all feel colour at a subconscious level. The colours that you choose can and will have an impact on how your audience perceives your brand and website.
If you want to convey a feeling of calmness, for instance, choosing a bold colour like red or orange is probably not going to achieve the desired result.
Now, let’s have a look at how to choose the supporting colours for your cohesive colour palette. There are 2 primary options that we’re going to explore; Monochromatic and Complementary colour schemes.
Monochromatic Colour Scheme
Especially in the fashion world, monochromatic colours are commonly thought to be black and white colour schemes. This is not technically correct. Monochromatic colour schemes use one colour only. To create the palette, variations in lightness and saturation are added to the original colour. Monochromatic colour schemes can also look really chic and elegant.
Complementary Colour Scheme
On the other hand, complementary colour schemes contain colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel.
In their most basic form, complementary colours are created by using one primary colour (red, blue or yellow) and a secondary colour which is created by mixing the remaining two primary colours. For example, if red was the primary colour, the complementary colour would be green (mix of blue and yellow).
Bonus: Handy Colour Tools
There are several tools available to give you a helping hand. I have listed a few of my favourites below.
Adobe Color CC
Adobe Color CC is one of my favourite colour palette generators. It creates a colour palette based on an image you upload. From there, you can select particular moods for your palette to give it a distinct tone and vibe. Try it out for yourself here
Pantone Studio is another great App which allows you to capture a colour palette from a specific image. It also allows you to explore different of harmonies such as monochromatic and complementary.
Books on Colour
Both of these books explain the concept of colour psychology in a really simple, yet effective way so you can easily apply it to your business.
Creating a colour palette for your website doesn’t have to be overwhelming. When you are armed with a clear direction to follow and the right tools, it can actually be a lot of fun! Remember, colour is an extremely powerful component of your visual identity. Picking random colours simply because they appeal to you is not the way to approach this task if you want to truly connect with your audience.
Give yourself the time and space to get this right for you and your dream clients. Keep in mind that there are no “perfect” colour combinations in terms of increasing your website conversions. It simply comes down to what you are offering, who you are offering it to and how you want your business to be perceived.