How To Use Color

thumb image

First impression matters. You know that.

With the rise of technology and the convenience it offers, customers increasingly experience brands online first before they do so in real life. We have established the detriment of poor web aesthetics, but how can you improve it?

As a web design Singapore company, we understand the importance of putting forth a good web impression, and we’re here to help you with that. Today, we will be talking about color, a key pillar of aesthetics.

In a study by the University of Loyola, Maryland, it was found that color registers in the brain even before images and typography, demonstrating the substantial role that color occupies in consumer perception.

Consider this image of a cartoon character, both before it is colored in and after. Take a moment to contemplate how each image makes you feel and why that is the case.

In the same way, the colors you choose to use will evoke emotions in customers and impress upon them your brand. This is why companies tend to utilize major shifts in color schemes when rebranding themselves. Take a look at the following example of BurgerUp’s recent rebranding efforts:

From its signature black backgrounds to pops of teal and amber, a vastly different brand impression is conveyed.

While most of you may not be looking to undergo a whole overhauling of your brand, knowledge of color theory can still go a long way in common design tasks as notices and social media posts. So let’s get started, shall we?

Hues, Tints, Tones, & Shades

Color theory proposes that pure colors are called hues, and when mixed with white are called tints. When hues are mixed with grey they are called tones, and when mixed with black are called shades. This determines the vibrancy, or brightness of a color, which dictates the emotion of a design. For example, a yellow hue conveys energy and joy, while its tint presents a softer pastel yellow that communicates calmness and peace.

Warm & Cool Colors

Another dimension that can be used to categorize colors is by how ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ they are. Colors have inherent moods that are strengthened through the socialization process by the meanings we assign them. For example, Blue projects trust and reliability and thus is a common corporate color.

Warm colors show enthusiasm and passion while cool colors are relaxing and give the impression of professionalism, making them suitable choices for more formal design assignments.


Harmony is the function of how the colors in a color scheme complement each other – a color scheme that is not in harmony is either boring or overwhelming. According to color theory, extreme unity leads to under-stimulation while extreme complexity leads to over-stimulation. Thus, harmony is a dynamic equilibrium that when achieved delivers visual interest and a sense of order.

Accordingly, color theory provides direction for attaining harmonious color combinations:

  • Complementary: Any 2 colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. E.g. Red and green. This combination contrasts one color against the other, and is appropriate when you want something to stand out.
  • Analogous: Any 3 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. E.g. Sky blue, green, and lime green. Such combinations are often found in nature and provide a color scheme that is easy on the eye.
  • Compound: 3 colors are used comprising a base color and the 2 colors adjacent to its complementary color. E.g. Violet, orange, and green. Both warm and cool colors are utilized in such a combination, providing for a balanced color scheme.
  • Triadic: 3 colors that are evenly spaced across the color wheel are used, forming a triangle. This combination tends to return a lively and colorful scheme.

As informative as color theory is, it can be daunting for a layperson to apply in practice. If you’re just starting out, an easy way to obtain harmonious color combinations is simply to draw from nature.



Use of color is critical in design and the strategic application of it can prove to be most effective. As with anything, practice makes progress. Keep at it with color theory and you will see your color combinations start to surprise even yourself!

Leave a comment