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So let’s start at the basics:
Primary colours are red, yellow and blue.
Secondary colours are green, orange, purple.
Primary colours are formed by mixing secondary colours. Tertiary colours are formed by mixing a primary and a secondary colour. I won’t name all of the tertiary colours as it is beyond the scope of this article.
Colour Harmony is the basic premise that certain colours go together well. These are said to be pleasing to the eye or easy on the eye. Colours are said to have relativity to other colours. For example, a orange square which stand out more on a black background than if it was displayed on a white background.
Colour and Connotations
Just as the home icon on a website gives the connotation of a safe place to return if you get lost or tired whilst navigating a website. And just as a cold tap has a blue symbol and a hot tap has a red symbol, colours set the tone of a website. With signage red means warning or danger. In E-commerce red indicates a price drop. It is important, therefore, to use colours in the context in which website visitors expect. If colours do not fit together and create colour harmony on a website then visitors will have difficulty using the website and perceiving meanings of different elements of the website. Task completion rates will not be optimal and the credibility of the website (in terms of professional look and feel) may suffer, causing the visitor to click away to a competitor.
Many different subject disciplines are complimentary and contain some crossover. For example, the theory that is used in Art & Design is also used in Graphic Design. When designing websites it is important to have a firm grasp of colour theory so if you’re considering becoming a web designer then either learn from other designers in a company, take a course or even read a book which promotes practice. I suppose a web designer could look at other design work and get a subconscious idea of what does and does not work. Some would call this common sense and they could probably create a few inexpensive websites from scratch. But if it came to working with existing websites on a larger scale then this type of developer may come unstuck without knowledge of basic colour theory.