Applying Color Theory to Blog Design

Here you are. After months or maybe even years of thinking about it, you’ve finally decided to launch your own blog and you’re ready to start making some serious cash online. That’s a big and important first step. You may have already picked out your domain name and you may have already selected your web hosting provider. Now, you’re ready to work on your blog’s design.

Many beginning bloggers are tempted to simply use a default theme, like the one that comes packaged with WordPress, because they assume that their content will speak for itself. Don’t get me wrong; you will still want to have quality content that your visitors actually want to read. When you use the plain Jane default theme, though, you’re going to come off as generic and unprofessional. You don’t want that.

Ideally, you want to order a completely custom design for your blog like how I have on Beyond the Rhetoric and how John has here on John Chow dot Com. Barring that, the very least you can do is take a theme template’s framework and alter it to truly make it your own. And one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is the color scheme. The thing is that the color isn’t just about looking good; your choice of color can have a direct impact on how your blog is perceived even before the first word is read. So, what colors should you use?

We should first note that your blog’s color scheme should stay reasonably simple. If you throw too many colors out there, it’ll just look muddled, confused and overwhelmed. That aside, let’s look at some standard color theory.


Blue is associated with stability, confidence, trust and wisdom. That’s part of the reason why it’s the primary color used here on John Chow dot Com. People come here because they want the trusted advice of a successful online entrepreneur. This is partly why so many corporations use blue as their primary color too: they want to be perceived as stable, honest, and confident.

Yellow is associated with fun, happiness and energy. Think of the typical yellow smiley face emoji. If the point of your blog is more about something that is fun, vibrant and youthful, then yellow could be a good choice. That’s why many children’s sites use yellow. Yellow, like the highlighter, is also a huge attention getter.


Green can be associated with the great outdoors and nature, making it a good fit for nature blogs or those focus on natural healing practices. The reason why it’s used on a site like TripAdvisor is that many major tourist destinations are in sunny, happy, natural settings. You’ll notice that tropical destinations are oftentimes featured on travel sites. City dwellers want to get out there.

Purple is the color of royalty, being associated with nobility and luxury. You see it with Crown Royal whisky, for example. It is the color of the elite, for people who have money, power or both. If your blog is geared toward high society, some purple highlights may serve you well.


Red is the color of passion, desire and power. It’s meant to elicit a powerful response in people and this response could be positive or negative. There’s an inherent sexuality about it, which is also why it can be associated with the sensuality of food with websites like Zomato. Netflix uses red, because the streaming service was and is a game-changer. They want people to care and get excited.

Black and white may not sound like the most exciting colors, but they could be quite powerful. White can be equated to purity and goodness, being used heavily by spirituality blogs and wellness sites. By contrast, black can be associated with death, authority or formality. Black and white together can denote tradition, as would be the case with a traditional newspaper.

Of course, none of these color theory “rules” are absolutely definitive. They are simply guidelines you should keep in mind when designing your blog. A food blog that uses too much white and blue could end up being counterproductive, just as a political blog with pink and yellow likely won’t be taken seriously.

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11 thoughts on “Applying Color Theory to Blog Design”

  1. David Hunter says:

    I use blue, red, and gold/yellow.

    What do you think of Orange??? For some reason, I like blue and orange together.

  2. saqib ahmad says:

    I am currently using Black and Red! LoL I don’t know how people thinks about it but I loved it myself 🙂

  3. Melody says:

    I usually use colour to reflect the topic more than anything, but I guess colour theory comes into that too.

  4. Kyde says:

    I read quite a bit about color and can admit this can be very interesting stuff. One thing to keep in mind that it’s very subjective. There are some colors that some people associate with one thing, and then there are some other people who associate these very same colors with other things. Black is a good example. Some people associate it with mourning while some others perceive it as something fashionable. The overall trend I am seeing it lately is that the simpler, the better.

  5. I use brown, light brown, dark brown. What do you think? Is it ok?

  6. my fav color for my blog is gray and white 🙂

  7. Thomas says:

    Good Informative John…My fav colour is apply to my blog is blue and white…

  8. angel says:

    currently am using blue and gray.

  9. faisal says:

    Some colours are just better for online work, like light colours

  10. Hi Mike,

    Nice analysis…my site primarily deploys black and white with a tint of blue.

    While it is important to seen as a stable and confident site, The Notopoverty Site is also a very formal outlet dealing with the topic of how to make money online (particularly in Nigeria) in a very authoritative way.

    My take is that it all bores down to how color is deployed by the site designer: one could use blue but instead appear like a site dealing with morgue issues 🙂 If in doubt, ask a professional or those good with a keen sense of color appreciation.

    Enjoy the day.

    Akaahan Terungwa

  11. I don’t know what Law of Attraction is working around here, but it was just yesterday when I read a lot about how to choose and use colours on a website, mine in particular.
    One day before, I was very preocupied with how to price a Quit Smoking program that I want to launch online soon, when Derek Halpern just released a video on the pricing topic. Like if I called him for advice.
    Gosh, I want to see these as signs that success is near, next corner!…

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