top of page
Bux logo

Color and the User Interface: Creating the Right Impact for Your UI

Color is an essential part of the human visual experience. It is believed to be the easiest element to remember when encountering new things. Colors are all around us. Every color we see causes us to have a certain emotion when we observe something. It influences our physical and mental state in many ways.

To understand the impact of color to the user interface design, it is essential to examine the concepts surrounding the element of 'color,' such as color theory, color wheel, color variants, color schemes, and color psychology. So let's look into them.

What is Colour in User Interface Design?

In design, color is the simplest and most important aspect of engaging the user with a product. The designer's preference and sense of beauty play a significant role in the color choices for the user interface. However, the process of choosing colors is trickier and more complex than it seems. Therefore, it is very crucial to the user interface design.

The Color Theory

Color theory is a set of rules that governs the use of color in art and design, directing the selection of color palettes and making it easier to communicate the message of a design effectively. Like other aspects such as style, color is an essential component of human-computer interaction, so designers must choose colors skilfully.

Choosing the color scheme that will work best for your design can take time because there are infinite color combinations. However, color theory guides designers in choosing harmonious and powerful color combinations. The contemporary color theory is built on the 'color wheel' and its classification of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

The Color Wheel

The first version of the color wheel was created by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. It is a tool that has helped people organize, classify, and mix colors for centuries. Interestingly, it is still used today to create color palettes and combinations.

The components of the color wheel include:

  • Primary colors: These basic colors include red, blue, and yellow.

  • Secondary colors: Colors generated by combining the primary colors. These include green, orange, and purple.

  • Tertiary colors: Colors generated by combining primary and secondary colors. These include red-orange, yellow-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green, and yellow-green.

What are good colors for user interface?

Empirical studies show that warm colors like red, yellow, and orange are the best user interface colors on cool color backgrounds like blue, green, and purple. Likewise, cool colors look good on warm color backgrounds.

You can click here to explore with colour wheel.

Color Variants

The color wheel not only depicts each primary, secondary, and tertiary color on a rainbow color scale, but it also aids designers in creating bespoke color palettes that promote aesthetic harmony by visualizing how each color relates to the color next to it on the rainbow color scale. This is known as color variants.

The color variants include:

  • Hues: The term 'hue' refers to the natural pigment of a color without any tint or shade. It is the original color itself. The six primary and secondary colors are hues.

  • Tint: Tint is the result of adding white to a hue. Tint, in other words, lightens a color.

  • Shade: The amount of black added to the hue determines its shade. Shade thereby makes a color darker.

  • Tone: A tone is a mix of pure colors and grey (equal amounts of white and black). The intensity of color will significantly decrease when grey is added.

The terms' value' and 'saturation' are two additional things to consider concerning color variations.

While the intensity of the color determines 'saturation,' 'value' is determined by how much light or darkness the color has.

Color Schemes

When creating an interface, UI designers use a color palette, also called a color scheme.

Color schemes, when used correctly, serve as the visual foundation of your brand, maintaining consistency and improving the aesthetics and usability of your user interface.

What are the color schemes? Let's dive deep into that.


Monochromatic color schemes are created by combining different tones and shades of a single hue. Designers mainly use it. The colors in this scheme complement each other well, creating a soothing effect.


Analogous colors are sets of three hues close to one another on the color wheel. One color is typically dominant, with additional colors added to enhance the scheme.

Complementary Contrasting hues are referred to as complimentary on the color wheel. The strong contrast between complementary colors creates brightness. Complementary color schemes consist of merely two blatantly different hues in their simplest form. This scheme aims to capture the audience's attention.

  • Tetradic- Two sets of opposite colors

  • Split- complimentary - Base colors and two colors that are opposite to complimentary colors

  • Triadic- colors that are equally apart

Check out these tools for creating fantastic digital color schemes:

Furthermore, colors can draw attention, create a mood, or convey a message. It can be used to amplify or calm an atmosphere. Using the right color scheme, you can get an air of sophistication, comfort, or serenity.

However, deciding which color to use or the best color scheme is primarily based on the concept of color psychology. Color psychology is used to guide the choice of color schemes. So, let's take a look at what color psychology.

Color Psychology

Color psychology refers to the psychological and emotional effects of color on individuals. This common technique can assist viewers in understanding a piece of information before reading the text or the meaning of information in relation to the color used alongside it.

For example, green is universally associated with success or positivity, whereas red is associated with an error or something negative. Color associations are said to be evolutionary or cultural.

Evolutionary associations come from the universal meaning linked with color over time.

As previously said, the green color is usually connected with positivity, while red is associated with negativity. On the other hand, cultural associations result from society's beliefs and ideals. No evolutionary or logical theory can account for this. They might vary from one culture to another and are susceptible to historical and cultural changes.

According to research, individual colors may be interpreted differently depending on the context, cultural differences, personal preferences, and experiences. In addition, color psychology in interface design affects user perceptions in various ways, such as boosting brand recognition.

Color and UI design

The process of designing the user interface entails several steps that must be carefully completed for an interface to satisfy the needs of the intended users. Even if a step seems simple, it still requires close attention to detail.

Color is one of the fundamental elements that a UI designer must consider. This is because color's impact on human emotions, thoughts, and mood is enormous.

According to research by the Institute for Color Research, 62% and 90% of a person's subconscious evaluation of a product after seeing it for 90 seconds is based solely on color. Therefore, designers can use color to influence how users feel and act toward a brand and how they see specific details.

Nowadays, any online marketing strategy must include color in the user interface design. The selection of colors s critical to the usability of the user interface.

Why is it important to choose the right colors for UI design?

Color influences clarity

For the readability and accessibility of digital products, choosing the right colors is crucial.

A visually appealing color scheme and well-balanced color themes impact usability, navigation, and interactions and give users a clear understanding.

Color aids information readability and better communicates the message.

Color reflects the personality of a brand

Color can establish the essence and conception of a brand or product. As one of the most fundamental visual cues in human cognition, color allows people to subconsciously link your brand to the emotions that particular colors evoke.

Many businesses nowadays use color as a marketing tool, mainly when designing user interfaces. This is because the visual appeal of a product is the most critical factor influencing the user's attitude.

Color aids navigation

Users can navigate the app more easily with the aid of color.

If the colors of your app are too uniform, users will find it hard to identify the main action on each screen. In that case, you could subtly alter the color of different elements.

This shows how color choices can impact usability.

Color strengthens other elements

The right color selection can strengthen other elements of the user interface.

  1. Color can influence the purchasing decision

  2. Color can satisfy users' subconscious aesthetic needs, which may lead to intuitive interactions..

Factors to consider in choosing the color for your design

The identity of the brand

It is also essential to identify what the company stands for. Learn more about what they do, their products or services, and their guiding principles.

Consider things like the brand's color scheme and logo. They might even be set on using a specific color. You should be aware of this to choose the appropriate color scheme to represent your brand.

For instance, if the company's logo and branded items are in bright colors. By using similar colors, the design creates consistency, connects all of the company's communication channels, and increases brand recognition.

The color scheme that best suits your purpose

The goal of the design, or what you are designing for, should be considered. You must understand the design's purpose and primary objectives.

Ensure you fully understand the project during your initial consultation to avoid extensive revisions later. This will assist you in deciding which color to choose and which to avoid, and those that ultimately suit your purpose.

Color balance: The Golden 6:3:1 rule

Color combinations are an essential part of the process when designing a user interface. Combining colors in UI design is easy, but staying away from overload while maintaining sophistication calls for attention.

The golden 6:3:1 rule states the proportion to combine colors successfully. By this rule, a dominant color must take up 60% of the space, a secondary color 30%, and a third color 10%. This ratio is considered pleasing to the human eye because it allows for the gradual perception of all visual components.

Designers who understand the proper color ratio can successfully combine colors without risking making the user interface look chaotic.

Visual appeal and accessibility

Any color scheme should be appealing, but accessibility should be prioritized. Ensure that your chosen color scheme will appeal to and attract the most significant number of people.

Also, remember that some people have visual issues, such as color blindness. Ensuring that even people with visual impairment can read the text and understand the message being communicated is crucial. It should be visible and understandable to everyone.

In addition, you should consider cultural factors and also explore color contrast. The color contrast makes each element of the user interface noticeable and distinct.

 UI design good color choice
An example of a good color choice

Final Thoughts

Color is essential in interface design. It stimulates all senses by transmitting a message instantly, unlike any other communication mode. Therefore, proper color usage is vital for projecting a positive image to your users.

At BUX, our talented team of professionals provides various product design services tailored to meet specific goals. For example, we could assist in making your interfaces more effective and user-friendly.

Get more done with our dedicated squads, or explore our mentoring and training program. Reach out to us today!

26 views0 comments


bottom of page