Color is constantly being inappropriately discounted. You can barely open your eyes without being bombarded by a plethora of colors. One might even ask, “With color being so common that it’s practically unavoidable, how could it possibly hold any value?” In this instance, the argument almost makes the case. Color is everywhere and it always has been. In the last few decades especially, many marketing strategies are to do what ever you can to draw the eye of a customer. People are so bombarded by aggressive schemes, a pleasing color palate and a balanced visual weight comes as a breath of fresh air. It seems that today, in marketing, the goal is often to jam as many colors and shapes into an image as possible in order to force the consumer eye into viewing. Is it attention-grabbing? Yes. Is it usually obnoxious and irritating? Also yes. I believe there is a middle ground. You can in fact make an image, advertisement or particularly a blog layout that is not only attention grabbing and memorable, but also pleasing to look at.

Most writers don’t have a background in art or design, so I hope this article serves them well and helps them design their page. For starters, I think that simply gaining a knowledge of some intermediate art terms will bring a few ideas to light. Here’s a little vocabulary to keep in mind:

The Color Wheel

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton created the color wheel to show an array of pigments and how they interact and mix with each other. It has since been a staple to artists and designers and will help visualize some of the terms I’m about to discus.

Primary Colors

Red, blue and yellow are the primary colors. They are so named because they can not be created by mixing any other two colors (similar to prime numbers which can’t be generated by multiplying any two numbers), They are very bring and aggressive and portray a sense of speed or urgency. This implied urgency and efficiency is why you often see these pure primary colors in the logo’s of fast food chains.

Secondary Colors

Orange, green and violet (or purple) are the secondary colors. Secondary colors are created by mixing equal parts of two primary colors. They are generally more interesting or pleasing to the eye than primary colors, but they lack the same sense of urgency.

Tertiary Colors

A tertiary color is created when you mix a secondary color with an adjacent primary color. The name of a tertiary color is composed of the names of it’s parent colors hyphenated, primary first. For instance, red-orange, blue-violet or yellow-green.

Complimentary Colors

Don’t let the name fool you, these colors don’t always go well together. Complimentary colors are colors which are opposite each other on the wheel.

Analogous colors

These are colors which are adjacent to one another on the wheel. They look nice together, but don’t pull much attention and can get boring if used in excess. Use them together to make an attractive background that isn’t too intrusive.

Warm Colors

From red-violet to yellow on the wheel, these colors remind the viewer of warmth or passion since they are the color of fire, skin, and romantic flowers.

Cool Colors

From yellow-green to violet, these colors remind the viewer of a calm environment or cool temperature since they’re the color of the sky, nature and ice.

Natural Colors

These can be made by mixing complimentary or close to complimentary colors. This results in a brown or gray which can have a wide range of effects depending on its context.

Color Value

This is in reference to the amount of black or white mixed in with a color. A color has a lighter value when mixed with white, darker when mixed with black and richer when not mixed with either.


A color can become “desaturated” by adding small amounts of it’s complimentary color. It becomes dramatically less vibrant.

Visual Weight

This is in reference to how an image moves the viewer’s eye. Something that is complex or complimentary has a high visual weight and something that is large also has a high visual weight. Use this idea to guide your readers to important points on your page but don’t go overboard.

Visual Equilibrium

In order for a layout to be appealing or attractive, it has to have a balance to it. Use a combination of all these ideas to create a balanced, interesting but not obnoxious spread. If you don’t have equilibrium, you force your viewers away. When an image is too simple, the human brain gets bored, shuts itself off to the image and looks for something else. If an image is too complex, it confuses the senses and the brain disengages as a defense mechanism. Use a combination of all these ideas to create a balanced, interesting spread. When you feel comfortable that your layout is balanced, take a step back, see what kind of emotions or feelings the spread evokes in you and think to yourself, is that the feeling you want to portray to your viewers?

That is what it’s really all about. How do you want your viewers to feel? Mess around with your layout and color scheme until it gives you the feeling you want to portray.

Rebecca Chelsey loves to spend time with her family and has quite a creative streak. Outside her life as mother and wife, she also works for Homeseasons, which has simplified the holidays with 4th of July decorations, Halloween Holiday arrangements and ideas for every holiday in between.