Create a Mood for Your Website with Colour Psychology

When you’re building a website, the colours you choose should do more than just look good. Colours are a powerful tool that can affect how people feel and what they decide to do on your site. That’s the essence of colour psychology in web design. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about using the right hues to connect with people on an emotional level.

If this sounds like pseudo-science, rest assured it’s backed by plenty of research. And at Source, we take the research seriously. We pick colours that not only match our clients’ branding but also set the right mood for their websites. Whether it’s making visitors feel welcome, excited, or relaxed, we use colour psychology to get the job done.

In this article, we’ll show you how this works with real examples from past projects, including a showstopping website for Chambord. We’ll share the process of choosing website colours and how staying true to brand guidelines doesn’t mean sacrificing creativity or emotional impact.

1. Understanding Colour Psychology

Colour psychology may sound complicated, but essentially, it boils down to how colours impact our emotions. This isn’t a new idea – in fact, it’s been around for centuries. One of the first essays on colour psychology was published in 1810 by German artist and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

At its core is the concept that different colours can trigger different feelings. For example, blue represents calmness and reliability, which makes it a popular choice for brands that want to appear trustworthy – think PayPal, Visa, and LinkedIn. On the other hand, red symbolises playfulness, excitement or urgency, which is why it’s often used for call-to-action buttons and by lifestyle brands like Coca-Cola and Netflix.

In web design, we use colour to make a site visually appealing, but we also use it to encourage certain behaviours or create an atmosphere. But it’s not as easy as just picking a colour and calling it a day. We have to understand the nuance of how colours interact with each other. This allows designers to create spaces that align with a business’s identity and its goals.

Whether you want to entertain or inspire, create interest or credibility, the right colour palette makes all the difference.

2. How Colour Theory Impacts Your Website

As you may gather, colour isn’t just a decoration for designers; it’s a tool. And one of the ways we use that tool is in the form of a colour wheel. A colour wheel helps us to understand the relationship between different colours, so that whether we want to complement or contrast, we can narrow down the thousands of hues into a more manageable range.

The colour wheel is divided into three main categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary colours. As you’ll likely remember from school, primary colours—red, blue, and yellow—are the base that all other colours are made from. They can’t be created by mixing other colours, which makes them the foundation of the colour spectrum. Secondary colours—green, orange, and purple—are created by combining the primary colours. For example, mix red and blue, and you get purple; blend blue and yellow for green, and combine red and yellow for orange.

Tertiary colours take this a step further by mixing a primary and a secondary colour to make an even more nuanced shade. With thousands of hues, designers can use a colour wheel to create any palette, from vibrant and energetic to soft and soothing.

colour wheel diagram from a web design company in richmond

3. Understanding Colour Harmony

Colour harmony isn’t just a fancy term in the designer’s handbook (otherwise, you’d find it in our handy Website Glossary)—it’s the secret ingredient that makes a website feel chef’s kiss. Colour harmony is the art of making colours play nicely together so your site looks and feels cohesive instead of chaotic. It’s all about balance, and we find that balance by using the aforementioned colour wheel in a number of different ways.

Contrasting (Complementary) Scheme

Colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel, like blue and orange or purple and yellow, look great together. They’re bold, bright, and demand attention. Perfect for when you want to make a statement or highlight key actions on your site.

Analogous Scheme

Colours that are neighbours on the colour wheel, like blues and greens, also make a great pair. This setup is less about standing out and more about blending in, creating a cohesive palette that’s calm and collected. It’s the go-to for sites aiming for harmony over drama.

Monochromatic Scheme

Monochrome doesn’t have to mean shades of grey. Think of an ombre effect, like a gradient from light blue to deep navy. This scheme is sleek, clean, and elegant, making everything feel more put together. It’s a classic choice for a sophisticated look that’s easy on the eyes.

Getting colour harmony right means you create an environment that feels welcoming and intuitive. Whether we’re going for excitement, calm, or sophistication, understanding these colour schemes helps us dial in the exact mood we’re aiming for.

4. Emotional Impact and Colour Schemes

Once we’ve determined whether we’re aiming for a bold pop of contrasting colours or a more cohesive monochromatic look, we can start selecting individual colours. As website designers, we usually don’t start with a blank canvas, as you’ll likely already have a logo in place, which we use to influence our choices. We’ll discuss that in further detail later, but for now, let’s explore how different colours are used to influence emotion.

Red – The Energiser

Red is the colour of energy, passion, and action. It’s a strong colour choice that can add a sense of urgency or excitement. While it’s often too bold a choice for most websites, it can be used in the right spots, like call-to-action buttons or important announcements to grab attention and encourage action. But as any web designer will tell you, a little goes a long way.

Brands that use red: Coca-Cola, Netflix, YouTube

Blue – The Trust Builder

Blue is the colour of calm, stability, and trust, which is why banks and social media platforms often use it in their branding. A blue palette can make your website feel more reliable and serene, encouraging users to feel secure and at ease while navigating through your content.

Brands that use blue: PayPal, Visa, Facebook

Yellow – The Optimist

Ah, sunshine yellow, the colour of optimism, warmth and clarity. It’s a colour that can light up your site with a friendly and inviting vibe. Perfect for creative industries or children’s products, yellow brings a lightheartedness that can’t be ignored. Pair it with darker colours for a scheme that’s both cheerful and grounded.

Brands that use yellow: McDonalds, IKEA, Snapchat

Green – The Harmoniser

Green is the colour of growth, renewal, and harmony. It’s a great choice for businesses that want to connect their brand with nature or signify growth and prosperity. Green colour schemes create a refreshing, relaxing and balanced feel.

Brands that use green: Starbucks, Landrover, Greenpeace

Purple – The Innovator

Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red to create a colour that oozes creativity and luxury. It’s ideal for brands that want to be seen as innovators or visionaries in their field. A royal colour, purple suggests sophistication and decadence, making your website feel exclusive.

Brands that use purple: Cadbury, Hallmark, Wimbledon

Orange – The Adventurer

Orange is a blend of red’s passion and yellow’s joy, creating a colour full of energy and warmth. It’s adventurous, fun, and sociable and draws attention without the same intensity as red. Orange is perfect for call-to-actions with a little less urgency or for brands that want to show their playful side.

Brands that use orange: Fanta, Nickelodeon, Harley-Davidson

5. Implementing Colour Psychology on Your Website

Colour plays a huge part in how people perceive your brand. Thankfully, when working with a professional web design company, like Source, we do the heavy lifting to make sure your site’s colour scheme does what it should.

However, if you’re considering doing your own rebranding, or want some homework that will help you decide which direction to take your brand, here are some recommended steps.

Step 1: Consult your brand guidelines

If you’ve invested in brand guidelines, it’s generally worth sticking to them. After all, the choices made in that document were based on everything we’ve discussed in this article. However, if your brand guidelines are outdated or you feel they don’t accurately reflect your business, don’t be afraid to start fresh.

Step 2: Touch base with your branding

Whether you’ve decided to scrap your brand guidelines or you didn’t have any to begin with, the next step is to take a look at your brand colours – namely, your logo and visual collateral. They may have been fit for purpose a few years ago, but do they reflect what you stand for today? And more importantly, do they reflect what you want your business to be in the future?

Step 3: Know who you’re talking to

Your audience’s preferences are one of the best important factors when deciding your colour scheme. Younger crowds might dig the energy of bright, bold colours, while an older demographic might prefer a more reserved palette. Who are you targeting, and how can you make sure that when they land on your website, they feel right at home?

Step 4: Set the mood

No, we’re not talking about Barry White, although the colour white will certainly come into play. The final factor in your branding is to decide on the vibe you’re going for. Do you want your site to convey calm or be a burst of energy? Colour choices are key to making this happen.

By following these steps, you’ll have a clearer idea of your brand’s identity, will connect more deeply with your audience, and can create the atmosphere you want, all while staying true to your business’s vision.

6. Bringing The Energy with Gather & Gather

When we teamed up with Gather & Gather, their mission was to shake things up in the food and drink world. Their logo, a cool midnight green/teal, already oozed boldness and creativity. It’s a colour that says, “We’re not your average caterers,” matching their vibe of being brave adventurers in their field. And while we can’t take credit for that clever colour choice, we were on hand to bring the rest of their website to life.

To dial up the energy, we sprinkled in some vibrant pops of yellow and pink. Yellow for energy and innovation—like a light bulb moment for every visitor. Pink for that splash of fun and fearlessness, showing they’re game to push boundaries. These weren’t random choices; they reflected Gather & Gather’s own words: “brave, bold, and curious adventurers in food and drink.”

Our palette was about complementing their brand while telling their story, mirroring their mission to challenge the usual and champion the unique. The result? A website that’s as adventurous and unconventional as Gather & Gather themselves.

7. Regal Raspberry with Chambord Liqueur

When the team at Chambord came to us for a website refresh, we were immediately inspired by their logo, which dripped with elegance. Our mission was to capture the essence of “make the moment magnifique.”

We let the visuals lead, as Chambord’s provided images featured effective pops of pink against their raspberry liqueur. So, instead of stealing focus, we used a pale pink backdrop that allowed the brand’s character to shine. The text, in the brand’s regal purple, whispered gentle opulence, drawing visitors into a world where every detail counts.

chambord website done by a web design company in richmond

8. A Glow-Up for Dr Karla Clinic

Rolling out the red carpet for Dr Karla Clinic’s website was all about matching the elegance they bring to aesthetic medicine. Their logo, a chic dark blush, perfectly represents their high-end skincare clientele.

For the website, we leaned into sophistication using crisp white and deep navy. White is the ultimate colour for purity and freshness— and reflects the clean, luxury skincare clinic that visitors expect to find. Then there’s the navy, adding calm and professionalism that looks incredibly effective against the touches of blush.

This colour combo is strategic. It tells a story of trust, service, and timeless beauty and sets the tone for customers who go on to visit the clinic.

9. For Colour Psychology, Go Directly to the Source

From picking the perfect palette to making every user’s visit feel like the perfect first date, Source London is on hand to transform your website. If you’re looking for a team that can help your site stand out for all the right reasons, get in touch.