7 Best Practices for Designing Your Color Scheme
Designing your nonprofit’s website involves a series of critical branding decisions. Throughout the process, you’ll find yourself asking, “What font style and size should we use? Should we place our logo here or here? Should our written content come off as familiar, formal or a balance of the two?”
One of the most important choices you’ll make along the way is determining the colors you want to use throughout your website. Colors bring your website to life, communicate your brand values, and evoke emotions within your visitors.
To help your nonprofit market itself more accurately, you must define the right color scheme for your website. Studies have shown that many nonprofits feel that a strong brand identity is necessary to build donor trust and increase volunteer engagement. Data has even revealed that 74% of nonprofits believe a strong brand identity increases recurring donations.
Website color schemes are the first thing that people notice about your site. Choosing the right color scheme for your nonprofit goes a long way in making this first impression a positive one.
If you’re working on building your nonprofit’s brand from the ground up or revamping your existing brand, follow these seven best practices to help choose your color scheme.
Familiarize Yourself With Color Psychology
It’s no secret that colors can impact your website visitors’ feelings about your brand. But it’s still helpful to refresh your memory about color psychology. For instance, you might choose to work with red if you want a bold color that communicates urgency, yellow to promote cheerfulness or green if your organization works with nature or wants to convey tranquility. Check out these other colors and their connotations:
- Red conveys power, urgency and determination.
- Orange conveys joy, enthusiasm and friendliness.
- Yellow conveys positivity, happiness and warmth.
- Green conveys nature, harmony and growth.
- Blue conveys tranquility, trust and compassion.
- Purple conveys ambition, wisdom and mystery.
Don’t Neglect Basic Color Theory
Remember learning about the color wheel in elementary school? To choose your website colors, reach back into your memory files to familiarize yourself with the basics of color theory. Some colors will naturally look better together than others, including complementary colors (those across from each other on the color wheel, like orange and blue) and analogous colors (groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, such as yellow, yellow-green and green).
Consider Your Audience
What demographic are you trying to reach to recruit donors, volunteers and other supporters? Bright and playful colors typically appeal to younger generations, while older generations are drawn to “classic” or mature color palettes.
Use Sufficient Color Contrast
As you design your nonprofit’s website, accessibility should be a top priority. Accessibility creates a better website experience for all visitors — including those with disabilities, such as vision impairments. To make your website optimized for visitors with visual impairments, use sufficient color contrast between your text and background. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend a ratio of at least 4.5:1 or 3:1 for large-scale text.
Keep It Simple
It can be tempting to splash your nonprofit’s website with color, but too many colors can make your site look busy and overwhelming. Stick to about three brand colors to promote visual harmony.
Be Specific When Defining Your Color Palette
Choose your main color along with one or two additional colors to round out your palette. Specify the hex codes for each when describing your color palette within your digital style guide so that anyone using your colors for design purposes knows exactly the right shades.
Follow the 60-30-10 Rule
This is a tried-and-true design principle that’s typically used when choosing room decor. However, this principle can also help you choose how much of each color to use on your website. The rule states that 60% of your design should feature your main color, 30% should have your secondary color and 10% should showcase an accent color. This helps achieve a balanced, tasteful look.
Use Your Most Eye-Catching Colors Strategically
Use more striking colors to draw attention to important calls-to-action (CTAs), like your donation button. This will help draw visitors’ eyes to the elements of your website that allow them to get more involved with your mission. Plus, you can increase the urgency surrounding your donation requests with bold, bright colors, like fire-engine red or electric green.
You don’t have to reinvent the (color) wheel when choosing the right color scheme for your nonprofit’s website. Consider your organization’s mission and audience and choose the shades that best reflect your nonprofit’s values.
As founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne Stefanyk helps to create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.
Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking and hanging with her nephew.