The Essentials of Color Schemes and Color Picker Tools
What are Color Schemes?
We can think of a color scheme as a set of colors that are intended to work together in harmony. Typically, we can present color palettes as a combination of HEX codes, which are hexadecimal values used to communicate the desired color to a computer.
Refresh your knowledge on HEX codes and more in our Introduction to Color Theory and Web Colors
In the early days, digital color options were quite limited. But today, we can tap into vast options of hues and shades, giving us the ability to create visually stunning and enjoyable interfaces.
Popular research always points to the fact that a large portion of the time, consumers make decisions based on color. It's no wonder that product-oriented projects go to great lengths to achieve a consistent and vibrant design that meets and supplements functionality.
Types of Color Schemes
There are several color scheme types to choose from, each with its unique benefits and drawbacks. As web developers, we should be slightly geared to recognize them, so we can improve our design understanding and communication in either personal project endeavors or in a team environment.
The monochromatic color scheme is a great lean choice. We can use it by creating a single color(hue), with varying shades and tints to introduce a minimalistic yet consistent look.
Let's spin the wheel again. When we say "complementary" we refer to colors positioned on opposite ends of the color wheel. A complementary color scheme creates a high-contrast look that can be both striking and dynamic. However, oftentimes we can fall into the trap of overly-saturated choices, so a balance of tints and shades should be included in the palette.
The main difference to the complementary approach is that we use more colors. For instance, if we choose a base blue, its opposite on the wheel would be orange, we'll need to include yellow and red, as its closest, neighboring colors.
As one of the safer choices we can go with, an analogous color scheme brings a harmonious look and a sense of flow and continuity. To utilize it, we choose a base hue and extend it with two or more bordering ones on the color wheel.
As the name suggests, in this color scheme we're concerned with three equally distant colors around the color wheel. While this approach can produce a high-contrasting, bold look, it comes with some challenges in mind. If we make no effort to accentuate the colors properly, starting with the lead color, they can often battle for the limelight.
The Advantages of Using Color Schemes
An apt color palette can convey a feel and look that matches the targeted audience, and result in improved conversion and retention. We already know that color psychology plays a major role in how a user perceives a brand, and how it emotionally associates with the different colors.
Ideally, teams should also ensure that the UI elements are distinct and noticeable, and reduce the cognitive load for the user. So, rather than just going with what looks good, this involves a broader focus.
Having a well-crafted color scheme can improve the website's accessibility by making sure that the colors we choose have enough contrast to be easily readable by people with color blindness or other visual impairments.
Popular Color Picker Tools
Even designers don't always start from scratch. Choosing the right palette can be overwhelming to figure out, with many factors involved in deciding which colors work best together. For that, we can turn to some interesting tooling choices.
There's a reason why Adobe Color is the usual go-to choice. It's the most feature-rich, web-based tool compared to others on the market.
With it, we can extract a color scheme by uploading an image or turning to a vast number of ready-made ones. Once we've made our choice, we can copy and paste the colors in both hex and RGB format. If we're already using Adobe software, it neatly integrates with programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator. Lately, they also introduced a new option, where we can import or choose colors and see how the combinations adhere to accessibility standards.
Learn more about useful design tools that you can turn to as a developer.
Coolors is a similar alternative that caters to 4 million users worldwide. We can explore trending palettes, and create new ones in their meticulously designed generator. In it, we can choose a main color, lock it, and continue to combine other choices. The first time you'll encounter it, there's a thorough guide that helps you navigate the tool with ease.
Aside from having a mobile app on Android and iOS, Coolors supports integration with industry-standard tooling which you can find in our useful resources below.
An eyedropper color picker allows us to select a color from anywhere on our screen. Logically, this is a great choice if we want to quickly grab color from an existing design as a starting point.
One such tool is ColorZilla with web extensions for both Chrome and Firefox. It's a more accessible option than the built-in browser tools available to us and has a few neat features such as color history, a webpage color analyzer, and even a CSS gradient generator.
Whatever type of color scheme you opt for, take your time to experiment and find a striking balance between aesthetics and practicality. The process may take some time and research, but don't let that discourage you. That's exactly why we shouldn't hesitate to take advantage of tooling. These tools not only provide inspiration and a wider range of customizable options but also give you greater control over the selection process.
Curated colors in context and useful terminology explanations