The importance of colour in website design

In the early days of website design, colours were limited to those web browsers could display. You could only pick from 256 ‘web safe’ colours, as this was all your computer could handle, and they would usually be kept nice and separate in HTML table-based layouts. Today, the sky is the limit, but this is not always a good thing.

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It can be tempting to simply use your existing corporate colours for your website, but what works well in print does not always look so good on the screen. Colours for the web and print are based on two separate systems. Print colours are CMYK based (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), whereas web colours are created through RBG (different shades of red, green and blue).

Working out how to match CMYK colours to their RGB equivalents is an art form in itself. You will probably want to consult a professional web development company in London or your local area rather than trying to do this yourself.


Over four per cent of the population is estimated to have some form of colour blindness, which has many different varieties. This is a hefty proportion of visitors to put off your site by having hard-to-scan colours. Your boss might like corporate grey text on a dark blue background but if this does not meet accessibility criteria, you might not only be turning visitors away but also could be breaking the law. Accessibility is graded from A to AAA, with public-facing websites needing to achieve at least AA under the terms of the 2010 Disability Act. You can try out different combinations of text and background colours to see what passes.

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If you are concerned about your site, it is worth seeking out a London professional web development company to assist you in ensuring it is up to standard.

Finally, colours on the web have come to embody certain conventions; therefore, changing these can confuse people. The vast majority of sites show hyperlinks as blue, for example. Your site does not have to do this, of course, and could change the CSS to make hyperlinks bright pink; however, this is likely to confuse people, and the chances are that they won’t stick around on your site very long. If this happens, the only colour you will be is blue.