Most people know, by now, that the Internet as we know it got its start as the ARPA Net. This was first network in the world to use packet switching, and the TCP/IP protocol. If was financed by a research agency within the U.S. Department of Defense, and so it mainly connected universities and government agencies for research purposes. That can be some pretty dry stuff and I’m sure at that point artistic value had little do do with data that moved along the network. Today—now that ‘ARPA’ has become ‘Inter’—the huge global network serves some very new and exciting purposes.

Along with these new purposes comes change. Remember, the network used to be used by dry scientist and researchers so that they could share their data along vast distances; efficient, yes—but boring! Now, the Internet opens the user up to a world of information on anything you can imagine, and does it in High-Definition Video, with Dolby Surround Sound. Suddenly how data is presented become important, and not just for aesthetic appeal either. Ask any advertizing guru how much presentation, including the right colors, affects a sale and you’ll see what I mean. After you have sat down with you client, and you know what they require from you for a Website design, it is time to begin your planning, and sooner or later, the question of color is going to come up. These tips and suggestions should provide you with some of the necessary information to make better choices when it comes to selecting color for your designs on the Web.

Your Eyes-The Screen-and Color:

I could go into how your eyes pick up electromagnetic radiation within the human visible spectrum and the brain translates that into color, but frankly we don’t have the space here and it is very dry stuff. Just think of light from the sun being a mix of all colors blended together to make white. When white light hits a red surface all colors but red are absorbed and red is reflected back to the eye so that’s the color the object look to you. The computer screen doesn’t need to reflect light, it produces its own, without going into too much detail here, because the newer computer screens function differently, just understand that when a high resolution photo or graphic is produced by your screen the unit blends the light to send it to your eyes in the correct wavelengths to produce colors. When you choose background colors, font or fill colors on the Web it’s a little different, you must instruct the screen which primary colors to mix to produce you final color.

This is done in HTML and some other markup and script-type languages by using the Hexadecimal method. It works on the principal that all Web color are a blend of three main colors—Red, Blue, and Green. You may remember your old television set if you got really close worked by combining tiny dots of Red, Blue, and Green color, so when you backed away, a color image was created. When you ask for a Web color to be displayed it is written by giving a Hexadecimal value for each of those primary colors (eg: #040264). This article is not meant to be an in depth lesson, so for a really fantastic and detailed explanation of color on the web check out:

Choosing Your Colors:

Once you are familiar with how colors work, and even how to program you site to produce the colors that you want—you are really only half way there. Selecting the correct colors for a site is as serious a business as anything else during the design process, but you wouldn’t know it by the looks of some sites. Use some of these tips when thinking about color in your Web design.

  • You may want to consider the psychological aspects of using certain color-schemes, especially if you site is for marketing or sales. There have been many articles on the subject, but The Art Therapy Blog seems to have the most information on the subject at:
  • I mentioned in another article that you never just want to randomly select colors for your project. You should always select a whole palette, or group of related colors, to use. Then you can assign them to your Headings, Text, Borders, and other elements. To select a good cohesive palette, I find that getting advice from an absolute master is always best. Therefore, that’s where I go. I visit works by the Great Masters, that is painting by famous artists. Once I select a painting that reminds me of the mood I want to convey with my site, I choose my palette from the painting. For a quick look at some of the works that I am talking about, try:
  • I recommend choosing at least four colors from the palette in separate shades, but I usually choose six to eight. Included are—Darkest, Medium-Dark, Medium-Light, Lightest; plus a Dark accent and a light accent. Once you have these selected you will be ready.

I know it is a bit tough at first to wrap your head these concepts. Usually you find that designers just randomly choose their colors, or use ones suggested by applications, or found elsewhere. One of the hardest things to do when developing a website is to wear the hat of both an artist and a programmer. It is possible, with work, just allow your eyes, your heart and your mind to work together and you will be able to look at your final project as a piece of art, as well as a functioning program.


John Adams Jr,

John is a free-lance author and journalist born and raised in upstate New York. He is currently living and writing in Saint Augustine, Florida where the temperature is a bit warmer and the lifestyle more relaxed. The move has allowed John to broaden his range as a writer and he now lends his unique voice to everything from news and review articles in print and on the Web, to a broad range of eBooks and creative pieces. John’s work is beginning to attract attention from a wide variety of readers, in many countries. See John’s Google Plus Profile.<