OK, so you blog because you’ve got something to say. Clearly, you want people to read it, be informed, and take notice. And they will, because your dynamic, engaging, beautiful personality shines through in everything you write — right?
But think about this: in those first few seconds when people land on your site, before they they even get around to reading your glorious words, they see the visuals – the colors, the images, the graphics – and it takes them seconds to decide whether you’re right for them before they click away. As I said in my last post, color is easily the most identifiable factor in people’s minds when they first jump onto any website. So it makes sense to use it to emphasize your blog’s personality, and attract your right readers.
There are lots of ways to choose a palette of course, and in my last guest post I wrote about extracting a palette from an image, or choosing a pre-made palette.
But when you’re starting with a very specific personality in mind — what colors suit that?
The Mona Lisa is an enigmatic and evocative painting, and not only because we still haven’t really figured out who she is or why she’s smiling. Think about the subdued colors of the painting – dark, muted browns with golden highlights, the background with only a hint of blue and green. If the image was presented in light, airy and clear pastels it might feel angelic, or if it was in vivid red, yellow and blue it would feel bold, upfront and active, and so much less secretive. Either way, it would not be the mysterious image that it is now.
In a similar way, we expect to see Spongebob Squarepants surrounded by bright, fun colors (he’s childlike and full of energy), and Dita Von Teese in black, scarlet, and intense electric blue – she’s sexy, mysterious, and a teensy bit dangerous.
While there aren’t any black and white rules about color (see what I did there?), there are some broad generalizations which can be useful. Don’t get too attached to the meanings of colors – these vary from culture to culture and also with context (for instance, in Western cultures, red sometimes means danger, but in other contexts it is associated with Christmas. In China, it often symbolizes good fortune, while in other cultures red is the symbol of mourning).
Here are some basic ideas:
Red especially, but also orange and yellow are often thought of as dynamic and active colors.
Meet Me At Mikes is a blog about creativity, craft, and life with kids from Melbourne-based writer Pip Lincolne. She exudes happiness, fun and an irrepressible interest in life. And she loves a bit of retro. Her blog header is likewise warm and bright with lots of color – but they’re slightly muted, which makes it feel a bit more mature and retro.
Even more than the primary colors of red, yellow and blue, tertiary colors such as magenta (red-violet) and lime (yellow-green) are usually thought of as vibrant and youthful colors.
I love the Darling Tree! Jo Klima is just such an immensely talented designer. For the past few years, she’s been exploring painting, pattern, and her spiritual side. Her rich purple/magenta palette conveys femininity with a splash of the mystical.
Watery hues of blues and greens – especially pastels such as mint and aqua – are most often seen as calming, and soft, pale colors are considered more feminine overall.
Our City Lights is an introspective blog by Diana La Counte, who writes about “a hopeful life after baby loss,” as well as style, her pink house, and much more. It’s feminine, delicate, and sprinkled with curiosity. There’s LOTS of pink, and her header is a text-overlaid image of pink blossoms on a sky-blue background.
If you’re going for the earthy, natural look, greens and browns are a good choice. The Garden Therapy blog uses a rich olive green, which has been lifted and made more dynamic by being complemented with bright orange, yellow, and a touch of lime.
If you’re wanting to convey trustworthiness and stability, blues and darker colors work well (think banks). But also keep in mind that darker, muted colors are also often thought of as more masculine.
Man of Many uses mostly a black and white scheme with a pop of blue. Note also the choice of a bold, solid font which emphasizes that masculinity.
Changing the proportions of color changes how they look
How you combine your colors has a big impact on how they’re perceived. For instance,
here’s tractorgirl’s current palette (but heads up – I’m doing a massive rebrand during February! Wanna join in?). I’ve chosen colors that are rich and bright, although I’ve toned down the saturation a bit. I love color, so I felt I had to include a bit of everything – but it looks a bit rainbow-ish, right?
One way I’ve kept it in check is to always use a LOT of white.
Another way I’ve changed it is by varying the amount of each color that gets used. The ones I rely on are red, yellow and large amount of grey, with the others being used for accents. So, my color scheme really looks more like this:
It’s still colorful, but a lot more civilized (and don’t forget the white).
Creating Your Own Color Palette
Want to start with your favourite color and extend that into a palette?
This is a perennially favourite way of choosing a color scheme of course! And it makes sense because you’re trying to express your personality through your blog – so put a bit more of YOU in there.
A single color complemented with black and white is perfectly acceptable for your blog for the main part. However you’ve always got to remember that there are lots of places you’ll be using color – for links, the graphics on your blog, your blog header, images, perhaps business cards and stationery – so you’ll need darker and lighter colors too. You can very easily extend your one color by simply using darker or lighter shades of the same hue.
Take some time to check out other blogs that use your fave color so you can see what it looks like in action!
Color pickers are THE essential tool for anything visual on screen, so make sure you know how to use one properly in order to get the colors you want. Hex codes (those 6 digit codes starting with #) are the standard for the web. As mentioned in my last post, my fave color-picker is Adobe’s at color.adobe.com. Not only is it great for sampling from an image, it’s also good for choosing a whole palette based on one color.
Got your fave color sorted? OK…
- Choose your hue from the color circle, and set it as the base color by clicking on the triangle at the bottom of the swatch.
- Then use the drop down menu on the left to automatically choose schemes for you based on traditional color rules. You’ll see four sliders underneath each swatch — the first three are the RGB values which alter hue, and the bottom one alters saturation.
The advantage of using the drop-down Color Rules is that if you tweak one color using the sliders, the picker will adjust the other colors in the scheme so that they all remain coordinated without changing the base color. Alternatively, if you adjust anything on your base color it will alter ALL of the other colors to suit. And if you’re feeling adventurous and experimental, you can change the colors one at a time by choosing “Custom” in Color Rule.
Take your cues from other blogs in your niche too
It’s always an excellent idea to check out blogs in your niche to see what colors are popular. Remember that your readers often have expectations when they land on a site, and if those expectations aren’t met that might mean you’re starting off on the wrong foot. But of course you’re not limited by what other people do. Be bold and go against the grain! Because that means you’ll stand out in a sea of ordinariness.
Right! Ready to go? Excellent. I would love you to share your color schemes over on the DYOB Facebook page and let us know if you’re happy with them or not — and especially if you’re struggling with them. The group’s there to help!
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