I'm a UI developer at a small organization.

I've been developing an application and I chose orange, black and white as the predominant colors in the palette. You can see the attached image to get an idea.

Logo at the left top changed for the sake of anonimity

Today I was told by my boss, who has many years of industry experience as a Business Analyst, that typically it is inadvisable to use black in the color scheme. I asked why, and he said its just a general convention. I pointed out that a lot of big products use black predominantly. He said that yes, they have a dark mode and that makes sense but to mix black with bright colors is inadvisable. It should either be all light/bright colors or predominantly black, is what he told me.

This is the first time I'm hearing of something like this and personally it doesn't make much sense to me, but I told him I'll research this up. I chose these colors you see in the screenshot because I wanted the orange to pop out and black was the only color for the sidebar that managed to go well with orange.

He's told that I should look into changing the blacks in the sidebar and the table headers.

I would like to know if this is actually a thing or just a matter of personal preference. Is there any resource for me to learn more about this? I'm looking for alternate points of view.

  • Whatever color you choose, make sure it enhances the usability of the program. For example, in one of my previous jobs the main system we worked with had a very nice slate blue navigation bar (that contrasted and complimented the white background), then they changed it to almost the exact same color as the page background (only real visual differentiation was a drop shadow). After that change the mental load required to parse the layout greatly increased and productivity was reduced.
    – Barnyard
    Aug 4, 2019 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


I have never heard of the "standard convention" that your boss is referring to and I have worked as a designer for over 20 years. This sounds like preference. However, there is a lot to learn about color.

You may want to spend some time looking at the color contrast for your color combinations first. Would these color combinations pass at https://accessible-colors.com? At a minimum, your color palette should pass level AA accessibility.

After that, you can start to look at what color means to your users and how your company uses color in its branding. There is a lot of both science and art behind color selection. Take a look at Kuhler Color for color combinations that speak to the tone your application needs to convey.

You spoke about finding something that matches orange. If orange is a necessary color, then start there and build around it. You could use some more neutral blue tones instead of black. Right now all of your colors are extremely strong. Color is a dance and it is important to identify which ones need to speak the loudest and right now they are all screaming.

neutral blues color palette

If all else fails, hire a visual designer who has extensive experience and education in this area.

"Users often perceive aesthetically pleasing design as design that’s more usable." Law of usability

  • right now they are all screaming Indeed!! - Fun fact: Even the black headers are screaming, even without thinking ofprinting; stack's black top bar also screams at me. I usually hang out on SO where this has long been replaced by a brighter bar. (Too bright for my taste, but still better than the black bar here ;-)
    – TaW
    Aug 4, 2019 at 19:52

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