Colour Theory in UI/UX: Designing a Perfect User Experience

Colours not only reflect the personality of your brand but also create a psychological impact on users

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Do you ever use a product and the colours of the product relate or appeal to you? Do you find yourself even hungrier when you open up your food delivery app? If yes, then you’ve experienced the power of colour theory. But as a  UI/UX designer, colour isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a powerful tool that can evoke emotions, guide actions, and shape user experiences.

Colour Theory in UI/UX Design is picking the right colours that communicate the best experience for users. Understanding and utilising colour theory is like having a palette of emotions at your fingertips. In this blog, we’ll dive into the importance of colour theory in UI/UX design, how to choose the right colours and showcase examples of how colour choices can enhance the overall user experience.

Why Does Color Matter?

Image by Freepik

Imagine seeing a green button that says “Cancel”, everybody knows green is for “Okay” or “Yes”. Colours not only reflect the personality of your brand but also create a psychological impact on users:

1. Emotional Connection

Differences bring about various emotions and psychological reactions.  For example, when you see a hot red button on a site or product, you become aware of how critical the decision you’re about to make is. Green encourages you to go ahead and blue creates a sense of trust in the mind. That’s why you see some job sites using blue. Utilising these emotions strategically can influence how users feel about a product or service and interact with it as well.

2. Visual Hierarchy

Colours help create a visual hierarchy by guiding users’ attention. Colour can be used to create a visual hierarchy and draw attention to important elements of a design. By using contrasting colours, designers can highlight important elements or calls to action, guiding users through the interface. 

3. Brand Identity

Consistent use of colours reinforces brand identity. Users begin to associate specific colours with a brand, enhancing recognition and recall. Here’s a simple test, when you see the colour orange, what sites come to mind?

4. Improved User Experience

It makes it easy for users to scan and understand content. Good colour theory applications allow users to quickly find the information they are looking for and understand the flow of a page or app. It’s essential for readability. By applying high-contrast colours for texts and backgrounds, users get a smooth experience while going through the application or website.

Colour Harmony

Colour harmony is the arrangement of colours in a design to yield a pleasing/desirable experience. There are many different colour schemes that you can use to create colour harmony. Some of them are 

  1. Monochromatic: A monochromatic colour scheme uses different shades of the same colour. This can create a simple and elegant design.
  2. Triadic: A triadic colour scheme uses three colours that are evenly spaced on the colour wheel. This can create a vibrant and dynamic design.
  3. Complementary colours: Complementary colours are those opposite each other on the colour wheel. When these colours are placed side by side, they create a bold and strong contrast that can be visually appealing. For example, blue and orange are complementary colours.
  4. Analogous colours: Analogous colours are next to each other on the colour wheel. When used together, they create a harmonious and cohesive look. For example, blue-green, green, and yellow-green are analogous colours.
Colour wheel photo by Usability Geek

Hues, Tones, Shades, and Tints

  1. Hue: Hue is the pure colour itself, such as red, blue, or yellow.
  2. Tone: A tone is a hue that has been mixed with white. Tones are lighter and less saturated than hues.
  3. Shade: A shade is a hue that has been mixed with black. Shades are darker and more saturated than hues.
  4. Tint: A tint is a hue that has been mixed with white. Tints are lighter and more pastel than hues.

Choosing the Right Colours

When choosing colours for your UI/UX design, it’s important to consider the following factors such as the purpose of your design, what you want your users to feel or do when they interact with your design, etc. For example, if you’re designing a website for a children’s toy store, you might want to use bright and playful colours. If you’re designing a website for a bank, you might want to use more muted and professional colours.

It’s also important to take note of who your target audience are and who you are designing for. What are their cultural and social norms? For example, in some cultures, the colour red is associated with good luck, while in other cultures it’s associated with anger. Some other tips include:

1. Understanding Colour Meanings: Learn the psychological impact of colours. For instance, green is often associated with nature and tranquillity, while red can denote urgency or passion.

2. Use Contrast Effectively: Ensure there’s sufficient contrast between background and foreground colours, especially for text readability. A good contrast ratio is vital for accessibility and usability.

3. Test and Iterate: A/B testing can help determine the most effective colour choices. Don’t hesitate to iterate and refine based on user feedback and analytics.

Some Examples of Effective Color Use

Colour Theory Reference Guide Image by macrovector on Freepik
  1. Facebook: Blue for Trust

Facebook’s use of blue creates a sense of trust and reliability, aligning with its goal of creating a trustworthy platform for social connections.

  1. Spotify: Energetic Green

Spotify uses a vibrant green colour that symbolises energy and creativity, aligning with its brand as a music streaming platform that fuels creativity and motivation.

  1. Google: Minimalistic Approach

Google’s minimalistic use of colour with a primarily white background emphasises simplicity and ease of use. The colourful logo stands out, making it easily recognizable.


Colour theory is an important tool for UI/UX designers. By understanding the basics of colour theory, you can choose the right colours for your design to create a visually appealing and effective user experience. Remember, a well-chosen palette can make the difference between a good design and an exceptional one. Happy Designing!

  • Color Theory And Color Palettes — A Complete Guide [2023]. Careerfoundry
  • Magazine, S. (2011). Successful Freelancing for Web Designers: The Best of Smashing Magazine. Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John.
  • Yalanska, M. (2021, March 6). Introduction to Color Theory in UI Design | Uxcel. The best way to learn UX design.
  • Color Theory for Designers: A Complete Guide by Canva
  • The Psychology of Color in Design by Nielsen Norman Group
  • Color Theory in UI/UX Design: A Practical Guide by UsabilityGeek
  • How to Choose the Right Colors for Your UI/UX Design by CareerFoundry
  • Color Harmony in UI/UX Design: A Comprehensive Guide by Smashing Magazine
  • Career Foundry
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