The World of Color. Introduction | WebReference

The World of Color. Introduction

[Dmitry's Design Lab]
Dmitry Kirsanov's monthly column
April 1997
The World of Color
Giving your page a unique appeal is as simple as selecting the right background and text colors.  But first, you need to spend some time exploring the color universe and looking for the most captivating and least hackneyed colors.

For the April Design Lab column, I was planning a sequel to my last installment, "Being Creative by Example," to further investigate the aspects of professional web design.  The subjects I wanted to discuss were color, certain modern graphics trends, and the navigational interface principles.  However, color per se and its use on the Web appeared so inspiring a topic that I considered a color study well deserving a column of its own.

We've already discussed some basic principles of working with color in the logo tutorial.  Here, we'll take a more detailed look at some remarkable regions on the color wheel and in the other two color dimensions (brightness and saturation).  Then, we'll consider one special and very important case of color coordination, namely the selection of background, text, and link colors for web pages.

Contrary to many other treatises on the subject, I won't explain here the color-related technical matters such as the non-dithering palette or converting decimal numbers to hexadecimal.  Such information, not surprisingly, is more than abundant on the Web (this site being no exception).  Instead, I'll concentrate on color per se, trying to figure out what makes color choice "cool" or "hot" or, best of all, professional.

I realize that nearly all the observations and suggestions I'm going to share with you are highly subjective, as is color perception in general.  No colors are inherently good or bad, and one person's favorites are another person's allergy.  Nevertheless, many colors and tints do possess certain implications that are more or less the same for all viewers.  I'll try to show you the right way of thinking about colors to help you select those which are the best at least for yourself---which is a real chance to please your visitor's eyes as well.  (And to avoid teasing their eyes or even making your message totally undeliverable, observe the color-related accessibility requirements.)

On the technical side, I highly recommend viewing these pages (and the sites I refer to as examples) in high color or true color modes, or you'll risk missing some of the most important points.  As in previous columns, some points are illustrated by numbered link boxes in the margins.  Color values are specified in the conventional #RRGGBB notation of HTML.


Created: Apr. 25, 1997
Revised: Apr. 26, 1997