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Now that you have an idea what it takes to create a stellar web layout, lets tackle what colors you should choose. Many times you might have a great wireframe or layout concept, but there are so many color possibilities it can be overwhelming. So where do you start? Follow the below steps to simplify the process.

Step 1: Existing collateral

Before you start picking out colors, make sure you have a clear idea of what you are looking for. Questions you should consider:

  • Do you have an existing logo, printed materials or website?
  • Do you have any preferred colors?
  • Who is your target market? (Male? Female? Age? Income? Location?)
  • What is your company message/mission statement? (Is it Bold? Elegant? Humorous?)

The answers to these questions should give you a clear view such as this: You are targeting a 45 year old business man with a high-end bold jewelry cuff link line. You prefer blue and want the over-all feel to be elegant.

Step 2: Research

Look at your competition. What are their colors? Do you often advertise next to a competitor? Make sure the color scheme you choose stands out next to them. If your research conflicts with your preferred color, talk it through with your web or graphic designer.

Step 3: Play

Now that you defined your target and competition, here comes the fun part – playing with color options. Remember to keep it simple and don’t forget about your color wheel. If you have too many competing colors, your eye won’t know where to go. Here are two resources that I reference to find the perfect color scheme:

  • Adobe’s Kuler site: This site is a great for helping pick out color schemes. You can type any color or adjective into the search, and out comes color palettes. For example, for our cuff link line I would search for “classy” and “blue” and “elegant.” It also has a feature where you can download the color palette and import it directly into the Adobe Creative Suite. Huge time saver!
  • Color Hunter: If your client has a photo or past design that they love, use this website. Simply type in the URL or upload a photo and it provides you with the colors in the photo. You can also type in a tag or hex code.

Step 4: Pick the final color palette

Your final color palette should have 3-5 colors in it. Keep in mind you’ll need to pick out colors for the following: headers, sub-headers, paragraphs, backgrounds and your side columns. The most user-friendly sites tend to keep it simple and use lot of white space. If you are going to use a bold color, make sure it used only as an accent. For example on my own website, Bauerhaus Design, I use a bright orange for my headlines, but the background I keep simple.

If you are stuck between 2 color palette’s, don’t be afraid to ask your target market. A quick way to get their feedback is to post 2 examples on your Facebook fan page, Twitter or Linkedin accounts.