It doesn’t matter if you are planning your first site, or if you are considering a re-design of your existing one, choosing the best design and colour scheme for your site can be very overwhelming!

Before you decide, make up a mood board

Mood boards are commonly used by home decorators and style make-over specialists, so they are a great tool for us to use when deciding on a colour scheme for our new site. They are used to gage the likes and dislikes of clients, and help the designer to create the right mood setting for the website.

To create your own mood board, gather together some photographs, images and colour samples you like and put these samples together on a board or even a table. Rearrange, add and take away elements that you like or dislike. Eventually what you will end up with is a colour scheme that will create an atmosphere for your site, and a colour palate to work with.

Make it relevant

Choosing the right colour scheme and style is essential to your website’s credibility. You should develop your theme – including your choice of font – with clarity in mind. Ultimately your layout and font style and size should be easily readable, and complementary.

For a business website you should try to choose inspiring colours that will fit in with your particular business niche or sector. Keep this in mind while you are forming your mood board. Try to keep your personal tastes out of the equation if they are too far removed from the niche you are involved in. You may like pink flowers and lace personally, but it probably wouldn’t project the right image as a theme for your tax and accountancy website.

Imitate but don’t copy

Sometimes it is helpful to take a close look at the websites of other businesses in your niche market. The most popular sites will usually have some sort of common theme running through them, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick out what makes them so good. For example, are the top ranking sites in your field using styles that are simple, uncluttered and easy on the eye? Do they use a lot of visuals images on their home page or blog posts? Are they using no more than three colour combinations?

You can use the same ideas that the top sites are using, but remember to tailor your design to suit your business. Steer clear of building a replica site that at first glance would mirror one of your rivals sites. Using identical design layouts or colour combinations can lead to customer confusion, and may upset your rival enough for them to take action against you.

Screen colours may vary

You may be tempted to create your mood board or choose your colour palette using Photoshop, but remember that Photoshop will show some colours in a slightly different light to how it would really appear on your website. Certain colours look far more vibrant in Photoshop, so if you were to pick a shade of eye catching red, it may look far more muted on your homepage.

Complementation, contrast, and vibrancy

How we see colours in relationship with others is called complementation. A visually appealing colour combination could consist of two colours that are on the opposite end of the colour spectrum, such as black and white for example. Colours that complement each other gives the eye a happy medium to rest in, rather than straining to make sense of a combination that appears confusing and messy.

Contrast is all about choosing colours that reduce eye strain and helps the reader to focus on your page, so this directly affects the colour of your background behind your text, and how easily readable you make your content. You wouldn’t mix a red background with orange text – that would be too painful for anyone to read, and your visitors wouldn’t stay for long at all.

Vibrancy is like your mood setting. Bright colour choices will energize your web visitor, and can really be stimulating for when you want to produce an emotional response in your reader. Darker themes will put your visitor more at ease, and will encourage them to focus more on details.

So you can see – there is a lot more to coming up with a theme and colour scheme for your blog or website. Take some time out to consider your choices and how they will impact your web visitors before you decide.