Our team just had a rather strong argument over an issue. The issue:
Some team members want to “update” one of our websites by changing the colors of the left navigation bar, and maybe also the colors of links. They feel this will indicate change and freshness.
In response some of us said no, let’s not do this. We should not consider changing an element in isolation. The color of the menu and the links should work with the other site colors – it’s possible to change something in isolation but it would be better to consider broader changes – I described this as taking a more holistic approach to site design.
Is the response fair? Can you select a single element of your site – like the navigation – and change its look and feel, or should you always consider the broader site design? Are we – I was on the side of the no-change – being pedantic/overly cautious?
Note: We DO NOT have a graphic designer on the team.
Yes, this response is fair and no, you were not overly cautious.
That’s a common issue that happens when some people have not the sufficient knowledge required to pull off the skills required to make the product appealing to others.
During my apprenticeship as software developer, I was often involved in user interface design. (Which is a bit different from web design but they share common features)
One of them are color harmonies to create a clear style-guide. The users aren’t dumb, make them learn your website.
I will point out some ideas on coloring as you’re especially concerned about the colors of the left bar:
- Links should always have the same color(s -> visited, hover..)
- Text (to read) should have the same color thorough the page (You are allowed have some text in a brighter version of the same color to indicate important messages / notices)
- Similar elements should share similar colors
Keep a good but small palette of color maybe 4 to 5? And use them to color your page – make sure you use the very same colors in different ways.
Make them a bit brighter for general information, saturated for important informations.
Color harmonies are the one single most important thing in web design. Next to the layout.