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How to Create the Best Colour Palette for your Product’s UI?

How to Create the Best Colour Palette for your Product’s UI?

Isn’t it strange how people remember products and brands by their logo and colour schemes? 

For example, when you think of a brand like Adidas, you think of it in terms of black stripes. 

Like the suitability of font, the colour of the UI creates a unique vibe for your brand and determines how consumers understand your brand. 

These are the factors that you should consider before choosing your UI’s colour palette. 

Decide on a primary colour

Colour Psychology In Logo Design

The first step towards the creation of your UI is the selection of a primary colour. The primary colour is of paramount importance because it is the most frequently displayed colour on the screen. 

Ideally, you should have 2 to 3 primary colours. These colours are to be chosen with much thought behind them because they might act as your brand’s identifier very soon. 

Find the right combination of whites and blacks 

The only thing you should remember in this area is not to use an absolute version of either colour. 

Pure black or pure white can be challenging for your eyes to perceive, especially when displayed on a larger screen. 

White has 100% colour luminance and black as 0%, creating intense contrast and making it difficult for readers to read and navigate. 

The way forward would be to use a colour from a grayscale palette that has the right amount of both colours. 

Using colours to convey meanings and messages 

Colour Theory

If you are consistent in using similar colours for both your button and links, it will enable the user to understand the interactive elements in the UI better. 

Use semantic colours if possible. These colours help in conveying a particular message to the user. Colours are used in highlighting a UI status or as alert information. 

You can use it to validate text fields or checkboxes or in an instant feedback mechanism. 

Use the 60-30-10 rule 

Even though this is a real-world design rule, it also holds in the world of digital designing

It works because it brings a certain amount of balance of colours on the screen and enables the user to move smoothly from one CTA to another. 

The 60% is reserved for your primary colours, 30% for your secondary colours, and the remaining 10% for your accent colours.

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Once you get an idea about what colours are more suitable for your UI, you can have a masterful blend of colours at your disposal. 

Have an understanding of your audience

The key to an excellent UX is knowing whom you are targeting. Colour can be a significant trigger for your target audience if it evokes certain emotions within them. 

You should also have a fair idea about the age group you are targeting, the kind of emotions you want your brand to be associated with, and your product’s specialisation. 

So choose a colour palette keeping these things in mind. 

Using images to augment your colour palette

Interior Design Colour Theory

A trick to improvise on your colour palette is to use external elements to build a quirky colour scheme. 

People often use nature and its colours to create a vibrant colour palette. 

To use external elements to achieve a unique blend of colours, several tools and plugins are available:

  • Alembic
  • Image-Palette 
  • Coolors
  • Adobe Color

Put thought into the use of contrast

Contrast is one of the best ways to direct the user’s actions towards the website’s focal point. 

There are specific colours that have universal symbolic significance. Colours like red, blue and green will convey your message to the user even before. 

Besides that, colours can aid the viewer in differentiating between text and non-text portions of the page. 

If the contrast is kept at a higher than average level, it makes for easy viewing, but it renders it somewhat bland if it’s kept at a low level. 

This is not a general rule, and with UI, things can go wrong if contrast is high. It can create problems for users to read the text on the page correctly. 

Hence it is always advised to do a contrast check or run your design on separate screens.

Never discount the accessibility factor 

As a UI designer, you should also be more inclusive. It would help if you designed keeping in mind that colour cannot be perceived in the same way by everyone. 

There are sections in the population who are visually disabled or suffer from partial forms of impairment like colour-blindness. 

Here are a few pointers to keep in your mind while designing to make your UI more inclusive: 

  1. Instead of just using colours, you can opt for a blend of colour and images for your commands.
  2. Make sure that the elements in the foreground are distinctly made visible from those in the background. 
  3. There should be an alternative text for your images. 
  4. Keyboard navigation goes a long way to ensure inclusivity. 

Using a more straightforward naming process 

When you are working with colours, a basic protocol to follow is to use a name of a colour in such a way that all members of the team are on the same page. 

When you are referring to a colour, they will know exactly what it is. 

A hack to make things easier would be to refer to the colours in terms of the function they serve. For example, if you use black as the primary colour, you could refer to it as Primary-black.

Creating an efficient colour Palette 

Fedex Branding Colours

Usually, there are several tried and tested methods to decide on a colour palette. 

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You can follow the adjacent method where you select a base colour and choose colours adjacent to that. 

You can follow the triad method, where you draw an equilateral triangle on the colour wheel. 

The third method you can follow is simply choosing one colour and going with different shades of the same colour. 

It is advised that before you finalise the palette, you should check out its visual aesthetics on different devices with different calibrations to see if it looks appealing.

Colour Palette Saturation 

The general perception about saturation is that the more saturation there is, the more intense it gets. 

This is why a UI UX design company chooses to use saturated colours when there is a singular task to be completed and desaturated colours when the user has to perform multiple less intense tasks. 

For example, if you want to book an Uber, there will be one saturated colour because your job is to do that. 

If you are reading an information-heavy article on a web page, the colours on the screen will be less saturated. 

Remember Cultural diversity  

Knowing that the same colour might bear two different implications for two different cultural niches is imperative. 

Each cultural group has its own beliefs and values; thus, they interpret colours differently. 

For example, white has its prestige in Western society as it’s considered a colour of virtue. On the other hand, white in Asian life implies sorrow or grief. 

So before designing the UI, you should have a clear idea about what kind of population and culture you are aiming for.  

Creating a harmony of colours 

App To Create Colour Schemes

Experts believe that a UI design should achieve a perfect balance of colours. 

A tremendous aesthetic outlook goes a long way to develop a favourable first impression of the website. 

The colour schemes that you could use as a reference point are: 

  1. Monochrome – Use one colour and various shades of the same colour.
  2. Complementary colours – Using colours situated in front of each other to create a high contrast interface. 
  3. Split-complementary – It is an improvised version of complementary but with added colours. 
  4. Tetradic – Choosing a pair of complementary colours on the colour wheel so that it appears like a rectangle on the wheel when you join them. 

Remember that colours can have a physiological effect

It doesn’t need further reiteration that our mind reacts to colours, which is why colour psychology is a legit discipline. 

For example, red has positive as well as negative connotations as a colour. 

Its positive meaning can stand for love, while it could also denote danger and anger on the flip side. 

While designing, UI designers should keep in mind that demography plays a crucial role in such interpretations. 

Colour perception is very individual. It depends on someone’s socio-cultural conditioning. Gender and age also play a very vital role behind them. 

Blue is a safe bet for a UI colour 

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Today, the most prominent websites and webpages, starting from Facebook, Twitter, and even Microsoft, all use Blue or some of its shades. 

Since these tycoons have garnered popularity and trust, it is believed that both men and women have an affinity for blue or its other shades. So if you are at a fix, you could probably use blue. 

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What are some of the tools that you can use for designing your UI? 

Selecting the best tool for your UI design can be a headache, and often people have opted for traditional tools such as the Kuler selector tool in Photoshop

There is a web version of it online now, but it misses its old user-friendly interface. There are other tools like Paletton that you try out. 

You can also go for material design’s advice on how to use colour and shades in interfaces. 

There might be other tools out there with fuzzy algorithms that you need to steer clear of. Here are some of the tools in detail: 

  1. – It is a very efficient colour palette picker. Once you have zoned in on a particular colour, it will help you create an entire palette. It also allows you to share a picture from where you can create a colour palette.
  2. Mockplus – Designers like Mockplus because of its inbuilt templates and layouts, which you can export to create and customise a unique UI design. With this website, you can rapidly design a home page, a sign-up page and a help page. 
  3. Paletton  is similar to the Kuler tool of photoshop, except you can choose from more than five colour tones once you have picked a primary colour. 
  4. Check my colour – If you want to check if the elements in the foreground and background have created a nice contrast so that viewers can read quickly, then this is the perfect tool for you. 


How many colours should a UI have? 

If you follow the rule of 60-30-10, you only need to have three colours. 60% of the primary colour area, 30% of the area for a secondary colour, and 10% for an accent colour. You can, of course, work with as many colours as possible. 

What are accent colours? 

Accent colours are used to accentuate the presence of UI elements like buttons and highlight important information. These colours are usually bright and saturated, which make it visually very heavy on the screen. This encourages user interaction with the UI.

What are semantic colours? 

Specific colours denote certain values that are pretty commonly understandable by the general user. Apart from this, each industry might have its semantic scheme, which might differ from industry to industry. 

What is the difference between UI and UX? 

UI is the conglomerate of all the visual elements on the screen with which the user interacts. UX stands for the overall experience of the user after he has interacted with the UI. In other words, UX stands for the user-friendliness of the product being offered. 

How do I use colours in UI design?

Many designers today have been integrating the colour that the brand is most associated with as the primary colour of the UI and then picking and choosing the other shades following the aesthetics of the colour palette. 

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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