Pick a color, any color! There’s a lot to choose from. Go on, have fun!
Color IS a lot of fun, and with digital technology and your favourite image editing program, it’s too, too easy to choose whatever suits your mood on the day.
But this isn’t a good idea.
Firstly, it takes so much extra time if you have to choose new colors every time you make a new image. And secondly, your site ends up looking like a train wreck.
Why Having the Right Colors is So Important
Color is easily the most identifiable factor in people’s minds when they first jump onto any website. If you’re running a business, of course it makes sense to have a limited color palette that your customers can identify with your brand – and those colors should express and enhance your brand’s personality. Your customers have an expectation that when they visit you, the way your site looks fits with what you’re selling.
A bank wouldn’t be taken as seriously if its colors were lime green and magenta; a toy store would look quite wrong if it was all earthy browns and dark greens. Businesses use colors to connect with their ideal customers.
But you’re only blogging for fun you say? You still need a consistent color palette. The whole reason you blog is because you have something to say and you want folks to read it. So help them read it! Color has the power to support what you have to say… but it also has the power to confuse. You want it to be a welcoming and beautiful space, right?
Choosing a Color Palette that Evokes Feeling
When you put two or more colors together, they resonate with each other. Some combinations are more pleasing to look at than others, but each group of hues creates its own feel. Yes, context can tweak how it feels a tiny bit, but there are some fundamental things that happen because of how rich or pure the colors are, how dark or light they are, and the exact hues that are used.
When you understand what feeling they convey, then you’re better able to choose a palette that suits you and supports what you have to say. And because you’re choosing them as a group, if you think of a palette in terms of a relevant image it can help you get closer to understanding how the colors fit together and how those feelings work.
Let’s say you want a ‘natural’ palette for your blog, because you’re the outdoorsy type. There’s still a squillion ideas to choose from – do you want to be rugged and outdoorsy, flower-child and outdoorsy, beachy and outdoorsy – the list goes on. For instance, because this image of daisies was taken late in the afternoon, the light is warm and accentuates the yellow centres, and also casts cool blue shadows. The overall feeling is soft, relaxed and warm.
On the other hand, this pic of a fruit tree blossom was taken in the middle of the day. The colors are brighter, fresher and cleaner, while still being soft and feminine.
If you want something with a bit more sensuality, this palette of muted brights is much, much warmer. It’s also a little bit more intense due to the overall darker tones, and especially the richness of the plum.
If you want something fresher, try using a palette with citrus hues. While this one’s a bit zesty, it’s not overbearingly so due to the cooling hues of dark blue.
Cool again, but more calming than citrus is this surf palette in watery colors. Muted blues are very calming, and these are especially so because these hues are a lot closer together on the color wheel. Darker hues can be seen as more serious and a touch more masculine too.
If you want your site to convey a clean, modern, and efficient feel, you could try using a neutral palette of greys, warmed with a soft beige to make it a bit more inviting.
But perhaps that’s not quite enough personality for you?
When you mute your colors (reduce how vivid or pure they are) and warm them (increase yellow and red tones slightly), it can create a slightly retro feel. Here, the primary colors of red, yellow and blue work to create an atmosphere which is inviting, fun, but still a touch nostalgic.
Want something with a bit more class? Let’s go for nostalgia with a modern twist. Just like in our first image, this photo was taken in late afternoon so the colors are already soft and warm. There are lots of browns in this, so we can group the darker grey-browns with a couple of peachy colors to create a feeling of sophisticated retro. Then, add in some chartreuse green to give it all a bit of zip. Presto, modern nostalgia FTW!
How to Choose a Color Palette for Your Brand
So when you’re looking for your next palette, think first and foremost about the feeling you’re after – and then choose a palette to suit. You might have guessed from the above examples that one of my favourite strategies is to choose an image that evokes the feeling or vibe you want, and then extract a palette from that.
How to Extract a Color Palette from an Image
Go to any one of the many color picker sites online — such as pictaculous.com, cssdrive.com, Lokesh Dhakar’s Color Thief or palettefx.com. My fave color picker is Adobe’s at color.adobe.com because it’s tweakable — you can move the sampling points around to get exactly the palette you want.
ALL of these generators will provide you with at least the hex-code of your color — this is the 6-digit identifying number (denoted by the hash key #) so that you’ll always get EXACTLY the same color every time you use it.)
If you try this, then think more about the colors that are in the image, rather than its subject matter – for instance, you might love a pic of a cobbled street because the shadows look fabulous and it signifies mystery and adventure to you – but think, are the colors great too?
There are some great sites out there that produce beautiful palettes on a regular basis (Design Seeds is probably my favourite), so it’s easy to find something that’s already made. But if you want something that’s truly YOU, you probably need to do it yourself.
Do it, be brave and adventurous!
What About Your Color Palette?
Now, sometimes people choose their favourite color as the starting point for their blog’s palette. And I’m really curious and I’d love to know – what’s your favourite color, and how easily does it fit with your blog’s palette? Leave your answers in the comments below!
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