Color harmony in app design – Part I

We tend to take for granted when color combinations are visually successful and we quickly notice when they are not. An immediate visual rejection happens when color compositions are not balanced and harmonious, or are too complex and over-stimulating.

Color harmony occurs when the arrangement of color gives an end result that is pleasing to the eye. And when a color combination is successful, it evokes feeling and emotions and naturally draws our attention. These color feelings can be fun, scary, serious, peaceful, nostalgic, etc.

When the combination is not successful, the color arrangement can be considered disturbing, glaring, chaotic, or perhaps worse, bland and unnoticeable. Taking a very simplistic approach, I classify colors into three categories:

The Vibrants (the hotties):

Red – Yellow – Orange

The Peaceful (the cool ones):

Blue – Green – Purple

The Neutral (the nerds):

Grey – Brown – Black – White

This is a basic classification and is not to say that neutrals can not give a peaceful effect, or that peaceful colors can not be vibrant. Much depends on the intensity (saturation) of the color and how it is used.

Looking at any of these images, I’m sure you have a gut reaction – you smile, you are perplexed, you are intrigued or your eye passes over the image without registering anything . Colors either makes sense visually, or they don’t.

When creating an app, how can you make color work for you? There is nothing wrong with just choosing a color because you like it, but just be aware that in any design color choice is extremely important. For your app, these four things will have the greatest influence on your apps’ success.

Content – Function – Visual appeal – Exposure

Since color plays an important role in the apps visual appeal, not giving your color choices careful consideration will be an opportunity wasted.


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