Choosing colour schemes for your design

Choosing colour schemes for your website design … or publication … or hair-and-nails combination … or whatever … isn’t always an easy task.

However, there are some clever colour-boffins out there who’ve created cunning tools to help you get the best out of colour combinations. Sadly, most of them are American and can’t spell the word “colour”. IT’S GOT A ‘U’ IN IT!


ColorImpact 3

My favourite application is ColorImpact; I have both version 1.7 (which I got free on a PCPlus DVD) and version 3.1 (which I bought upgraded to).

It is packed with features. The application makes it desperately simple to choose colours (use either hex values, RGB or HSB) and find complimentary shades, harmonies, opposites, and families of the same colour, either darker, lighter, more saturated or less so.

I used this application quite a lot during the design phase of the University of St Andrews website redesign project.

The latest version costs US$49.95 (about GBP £25.75).

Color Schemer

Color Schemer

If you don’t fancy forking out twenty-five quid then you can try Color Schemer’s online version. It doesn’t have quite so many features as either ColorImpact or Color Schemer Studio — their commercial desktop version of the same (4¢ more than ColorImpact at US $49.99) — but is still rather good none-the-less.


Dulux website

And if none of that clever, geeky software sounds your thing, you could always check out and pretend that your website is a lovely big room.

Make sure you don’t actually paint your monitor, though.


Adobe has a great service called Kuler, which allows users to create and share their colour schemes.