Colour Theory

Colour theory is a basic in any type of design whether it be photography, painting or web design. The theory is the same. Colour may seem unimportant, but a bad colour scheme can be off putting to the viewer and have a seriously detrimental effect upon any work produced.


There are many different elements that make up colour theory. One of the more important theories to learn within this topic is that of complementary colours. This is about the relationship between different colours, how they react to each other, how they complement each other. Or not. Creating a scheme where the colours go together will relax the viewers eye and therefore be much more soothing to view. If the colours clash, there are sharp colours, mismatched tones, this will jar the eye and become an unpleasant viewing experience. This complementary colour theory is best displayed by the Triadic colour wheel. The colours opposite each other are termed as complementary. For example, orange and blue. Placed next to each other they enhance each other’s colour and make them stand out.


Contrast created by use of complementary colours is particularly important when designing a web page, as it is of vital importance for information to be clearly readable. Hues and colours that are similar to each other do not stand out, and can, again, cause strain to the eye, which can be off putting to the reader who then may not remain on the page due to the discomfort. Creating contrasting blocks and areas within the page can also help to draw the viewer’s eye to specific areas of the page. It can create focal points, thus clearly highlighting important segments. It is also important to note that when using this type of contrast, it can be helpful to make the text the brightest element on the screen, as this too reduces eyestrain. For example, instead of the traditional black text on white, it is softer on the eye to switch these colours. At the end of the day, however, simplicity and readability for text blocks is of the utmost importance.


It should also be noted that the vibrancy of the actual colour scheme itself will impact how the viewer simply feels when viewing the page. Brighter, more vibrant colours create a sense of energy, whereas dark shades can be more relaxing. It is important to decide what specific feel or emotion is required for the website being designed.

Colour theory can be hard to master, but with trial and error and a lot of practice, a great scheme can be created. Remember, the important factors here are to create a harmonious visual environment, creating a maximum of readability.