There are hundreds of studies and reports on the psychology of color and the effect that colors have on people in different situations, both online and offline. Very often you’ll hear about things like how the colors impact behavior of shoppers and diners, or the calming feelings some colors and patterns can have in hospitals to help keep both patients and their families comfortable and even increase their confidence that they’re getting the best care. I’ve even seen a study done on the best colors to use inside a daycare versus outside on a playground.
No worries, I’m not going to get all scientific here, but I do want to talk about color choice and design a little bit because I think it will help you get an idea and a broader vision of what you want your website to look and feel like to your potential clients.
The important thing to know is that there is no right and wrong in this arena. If you want your website to be purple, it can be purple. If you want your website to be orange and blue, it can be orange and blue. If you want to have polka dots, you can have polka dots. (Yes, really, even on a professional services website.)
Some will say red is associated with power and/or anger, but is also often referenced to indicate confidence and pride. (Remember when red “power suits” were all the rage in fashion?)
Blue is often said to convey trustworthiness and loyalty, which is why you see blue used in so many business website designs and social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all blue.)
Green is often used to represent nature or wealth. Orange for energy.
Yellow for joy. Purple for wisdom, strength, and compassion.
Let’s not stress over all that color meaning right now…
Chances are the WordPress theme you chose probably has colors you already like and the major design elements are probably already included, but in most cases you can make changes and customization to the overall look of it if you’d like. We’re not going to go into huge detail about design and color use, but I do want to talk about it a little bit since it’s something that a lot of people feel intimidated by. Let’s toss that fear aside and make your website a reflection of the amazing possibilities you represent.
Less is more.
You can use almost any color, pattern, or design that you like, as long as you remember that less is more. You may not want millions of polka dots, but a few used to highlight a certain section of a page might be appropriate and attention grabbing.
Same goes with bright bold colors. Your website might likely be mostly text anyway, you can use bursts of colors and/or graphics to highlight certain areas.
When it comes to the actual text of the page, I recommend sticking with plain old black print on a white background. You can go with a gray or a brown print on a white background if you really want to, but for the easiest readability and user experience, black print on a white or light background is what most people expect to find and is the easiest to read.
Since we’re talking about text, I also recommend a font point size of at least 14 for easy readability. Depending on the font being used, sometimes I’ll even up that to a 16 point font.
If you’re worried about mobile and tablet users, check to see if your WordPress theme is responsive. Responsive designs automatically adjust everything to the screen size of the device they’re being viewed on, so the font won’t be huge on a tiny mobile screen. Most themes these days do have responsive built-in.
Here are some nifty tools to help you choose colors and color schemes that work well together….
This comes from Adobe as a resource in addition to their design tools. You can browse palettes that have already been created or you can create your own. You can choose a setting to generate palettes that are complementary, monochromatic, shades and tones, etc…
The thing I like most about this tool is that it generates the necessary web based HEX codes of the color for you, which you’ll need if you decide to edit the CSS and code new colors into your website. It’s also really easy to use and has the feel of a classic color wheel.
This tool also generates the HEX codes to match the colors you select, this tool was designed to generate palettes. Similar to the Kuler tool, you start with a main or base color and the tool generates several palettes that will go well with that color.
I love this website and I’ve used it for several years now. I could spend hours browsing colors and patterns and playing with all the options.
If you click into a palette it will include your HEX codes information and you can click around to decide which colors you want to use as main colors and which you want to use as accent colors.
Check out the article they have on adding the Pantone color of the year to your website while you’re there, it’s interesting and worth the quick read.
Similar to the Kuler and the Color Wizard, but has some nifty little features of its own. In particular, down at the bottom, after you choose colors on the wheel you can click on Examples and it will automagically give you a rough idea of what those colors might look like together on a page…..
Real Life Examples of Websites
We can talk about colors all day long until we’re both blue in the face, but color and design are visual things, so let’s just look at a handful of beautiful examples to get your creative mind thinking…
It’s Okay to Keep Things Simple
Maybe you want to stay super simple and just get started right away. There is no hard and fast rule that you have to do any of these things. You can use your WordPress theme right out of the box without changing anything if you want to. That is perfectly okay to do.
In case you think I’m just saying that to take the pressure off, let’s take a quick look at one of my websites:
I did absolutely nothing to edit the design on The Small Business Transcriptionist, I didn’t even add a custom header to the site. In fact, I did that intentionally here, I wanted it to be very simple and straightforward. I just uploaded the theme and wrote the content for the pages. The homepage is all text plus the stock photo on the right side.
The site is using Genesis Framework with the Focus Child Theme in the default colors for that theme. Nothing fancy. I actually use the exact same child theme (Focus) on my cross stitch blog, but I customized the header and made a few changes.
Simple is GOOD!
Getting Custom Headers Created
You might have noticed that a lot of the designs we looked at use mostly standard text and a custom header across the top. That’s a pretty easy change to make inside of WordPress and a lot of themes will have an area right in the Dashboard for you to simply upload a new header.
In most cases once you install a WordPress theme, if you like the colors already, there’s not much else you have to edit or change to get off the ground with a full website. That’s why I like using WordPress so much; it’s just easy and mostly done for you.
There are a few things you can do if you want a custom header created. If you’re familiar with using graphics programs, you can of course put one together yourself and add it to your site. Easy, done, and free. You could even use a tool like Canva to create a simple header graphic for your website.
You can go over to Fiverr.com and choose a graphic designer that will create your header for between $5 and $150, depending on extras and edits that you want done.
You can go all-in and hire a designer to overhaul the whole look and change the color scheme. I’d be glad to recommend some smart friends here:
All that said, I know we’re all on a budget and when you’re just getting started you want to keep costs down. I’m not an uber-designer, but I do tend to dabble in graphics here and there. (All of my websites currently have headers I created myself.) If you’re struggling with this and it’s holding you back, I really want you to cross it off your to-do list so you can move forward. I would be more than happy to create something simple for you at no charge. Just drop me an email and let me know what you need and how I can help.
Some Additional Reading:
If you’d like to change the fonts that are in your theme as well as the colors, here’s a really good article at Canva about font pairing. I do recommend at least a 14 point font size for easy readability.
This is a good explanation on why an official real honest to goodness logo is going to cost you quite a bit more than just a custom blog header or other graphic creation.
Homework and Action Steps for This Section:
- Select and install a WordPress theme if you haven’t already.
- Think about colors and how you might use them to accent things on your website.
- Think about if you want a customer header or just a plain text header.
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