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Practical Tips

In addition to setting the theme, mood, and message for a Web site, color is used for very practical reasons. For instance, contrasting colors help us read what is on the page. And colors can be used to identify sections of a Web site.

But color can be used with well or poorly. The success if a Web site may depend on simple color selection.

Text and Color

This is easy to read text.

Tests indicate that plain black text on a white background is the easiest to read.

This text is almost as easy to read as the sample above.

White text on a black background is the second easiest to read.


This is an example of text and background with low contrast. It is very difficult to read.

But, as shown on the right, when there is not enough contrast between the text background it become very difficult to read the message.


The problem is that red and blue do not go very well together.

Some colors are poor choices even if the contrast is good. Many people will say that the text in the example on the right appears to vibrate.


Color as Indicators

Example #1 Example #3
Example #3 Example #4

Color can be used on a Web site to help visitors understand where they are. On the right are four pages from a real Web site. Each of the four sample pages are from different sections within the site. Every section is color coded. For instance, all the pages in one particular section have a marker image in the top left hand corner that is pink. All the pages in another section have a blue marker image. Other sections feature purple and green marker images.

The separate colors of each section help visitors keep track of where they are and help them navigate around the site.


In Conclusion: Choosing Colors


There is no right way or wrong way to choose colors for a Web site. The colors should be used to convey the theme, mood, feeling, and message of the site. We know that there shouldn't be “too many” colors. However, figuring out what quantity is too many is hard. It varies from site to site. In one instance three colors might be just right. On another five colors are appropriate. But on a third site four colors could be too much.

Understanding how color works on a Web site makes selecting the colors much easier.

For more information about Web browser colors, visit our Online Browser Safe Color Chart, RGBA Web Colors page, and HSL Color pages.

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