I'm writing a thesis on web usability. I'd like to mention the choice of colors and which ones are appropriate to use and which are not.

Now I've searched on the internet but what I've found so far indicates that it doesn't matter what the color is used, but rather the brightness of the color. Is this accurate? If so, do you have sources?

I asked this question in Stack Overflow, but the community want me to ask the question here.

  • 1
    In which culture? In which context? This question is extremely broad for a thesis topic. Obviously contrast & relative brightness play a role in usability (which is part of why gray scale wireframes are often a starting point), or for people who are colorblind. A single color can have all sorts of wildly different symbolism and implications depending on the user's background & the site's purpose, so there is no hard & fast rule for "what's appropriate and what's not."
    – mc01
    Feb 27, 2015 at 5:28

2 Answers 2


If I understand the question properly then the answer falls into many different areas. You should be well read on the subject but I would recommend looking into a range of articles from the Gestalt School to Tufte to Nielsen to computer scientists looking into color and data visualization (as for example):

Why Should Engineers and Scientists Be Worried About Color?

How Not to Lie with Visualization

Re bright colors v dull colors - you need to read up on saturation, hue, tint, etc... Take a photograph of a bright red bowl of strawberries and slowly reduce the saturation and then record how your perception of the yumminess of those strawberries have changed.

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Colors should really match the theme of the site and be easy to the eye. For example, if the site is about valentines day, use shades of red and pink.

Most importantly, make sure contrast is good.

An example of bad contrast which many websites produce is light grey on white.

Visit checkmycolours.com and put any URL in it to see if the website has good colours. It will reveal everything for you.

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