Written by:
Carolina Marquez

5 tips on choosing the right colors for your design


Most people match colors based on their intuition which is based on color combinations we may learned at a younger age such as the blue sky and green grass, red roof, and white walls.   (Speaking of learning, recent research suggests that our ancestors didn't even see the color blue!)

Using colors is a key element in achieving a professional design.  It is just as important as selecting the right font and format of your design and that's why you can't just randomly select colors.   Each color can impact the balance of other components as well as trigger an emotion with your viewers.

Choosing the correct color combination can sometime prove challenging.  In this article we are covering a few simple and effective ideas to show you how you can achieve a good balance when it comes to choosing a color palette for your projects.

Use palettes

There are many good palettes you can find on the internet. Using palettes is a good idea because you can rely on color combinations others have already carefully selected. We recently wrote an article on a few nice palettes we liked and think can serve as a good starting point. Learn More.


When choosing the correct palette, consider your design's objective and audience.  Selecting a palette for teens versus one for a corporate audience or specific industry can impact your message.  There are plenty options to choose from, just make sure to take your time and select the one that works for your audience.

Keep it simple

The biggest mistake non designers make is using way too many colors and to make matters worst, they are often randomly selected colors that don't have a relationship with each other.

This will result in a rainbow effect with poor color contrast.   A simple tip is to keep it as simple as possible by using only additional colors if you have a good reason to.

And when you need to select more than a couple colors,  choose ones that show a compatible relationship to each other.

Tip: Try placing a couple shapes containing colors you are considering and see if they complement each other.


If you are new to design it's tempting to use multiple colors, especially when you want to make sure your design stands out but this is a common mistake which will cause your design to look imbalanced and overcharged with an unclear focus.  You learn more about achieving clean design here.

Choose a group of colors

As noted colors trigger emotions (It's not by accident that McDonald's and other fast food chains use bright yellow and red colors.) There are warm, cold and neutral colors.

As a rule, red palettes are warm, blue palettes are cold while beige/gray palettes are neutral. Depending on what you want to transmit in your design, you may choose to use one of these groups.


Tip: We recommend neutral colors to be used backgrounds, and warm or cold colors for elements (shapes, text, etc). Of course, not every neutral color goes with any warm/cold color, but this rule could help you get started. In the example above, you can see how we went with a neutral color group, with grays, beige and blacks.

Do not fear desaturated colors

You don't always have to create an explosion of colors in our designs. Subtle colors are as good and effective as bright neon ones.  In fact with subtle colors you can concentrate on the message and spend more time viewing it versus bright/neon colors which spark your attention but soon after you will want to look away due to their strong trigger.

Think about watercolor paintings, they are equally impressive and pleasant to see as any other.  It is the combination that matters, not the intensity.


Additionally don't underestimate the power of gray.  Although it may seem dull, it is a neutral color that goes with almost everything and is easy to work with for novice designers.  In the example above notice how the gray gone background is not overtaking the elements in front of it.


Sometimes you want to point out a specific element or area in your design such as text.   As a novice your first intuition is to introduce a new color but that isn't always necessary.

Going back to the less is more principal you can stay within your existing color palette and instead use styling techniques such as underline, add a subtle shadows or highlight effects.  One effective and clean method is to add a white or dark shape (ex. Rectangle) under your content and apply a 40-60% transparency (which you can easily add to any elements within Visme)

This will keep you in the same color palette which will wash through from elements behind your shape and give you enough contrast to allow your content to standout and be legible.


Remember the rule of three colors, there are other ways to bring attention to your design than making it look like a carnival. Learn how to use transparency to highlight elements in your design.

Are there any other tips that have worked for you?  We'd like to hear them. Share it below.


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About the Author

Caro is a internet marketer, blogger and a design enthusiast. She joined the Visme.co team on 2014, and she's been working with the tool ever since! She likes to share tips and tricks to make design and marketing easy and reachable for anyone!

One response to “5 tips on choosing the right colors for your design”

  1. Karen Totten says:

    Great tips! But please please proof read your copy before publishing! couple typos a foot.

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