Choosing the Right Colors

Although using lots of white space and minimalism is favored in web site design today, you’ll still want a few well-placed splashes of color on your law site. You’ve most likely seen a few pop-up color pickers on the content generator sites I’ve gone through in my guide. Let’s look at some tools that go beyond just choosing random colors from those color pickers.

Even if used sparingly, you first want to consider what colors are appropriate for a law firm site. You probably want a limited palette of conservative colors so your visitors trust that you’re an authoritative and trusted legal expert. At first a site like Adobe’s Kuler can be very confusing with all its dials and sliders and number fields. But thankfully there are lots of color themes that others have already created for you. If you hit the “explore” button at the top of the site and enter some keywords like “attorney” or “law firm“, you’ll see what the most commonly-accepted colors are for law firm sites.

From using those theme searches, you’ve noticed that the standard colors for a law site seem to be mostly blues, black/gray, copper/brown/tan, and maybe some green or maroon. The colors in whatever palette you choose will probably be darker versions of the color with one or two brighter versions. If you don’t trust the Kuler community, you can do the same kind of search entering “law firm” at the ColourLovers search box, and you’ll see the same colors popping up over and over again. ColourLovers has a lot more community features than Kuler, so you even ask questions about law firm colors to the group like this person or this person did.

You may have other inspirations for the colors you want to use in your theme. Maybe you want to use the colors from a logo or brochure that’s already been designed for the firm. Or maybe you want to prominently use a picture of your building or office interior on your home page, and you’d like the overall color theme for your site to mesh with that image. There are tools that let you upload an image and give you great ideas for colors based on that image. Pictaculous will take a pic of your choosing and do several neat things with it. It will offer a suggested color palette but also give you suggested themes from Kuler and ColourLovers. It will even put its suggested colors in an Adobe swatch file for you. With this file, if you use Photoshop or Illustrator, you can import the colors and use them easily in any digital artwork you might create, or give them to a graphic designer to work with.

If you are really intent on using colors from the real world, there are tools that can help you with that also. For example, you can go to the Benjamin Moore paint site, get the name of a real paint, and then use the EasyRGB site to find out it’s hex number (the color’s “computer name”). What does this mean? If you like the “smoke” or “storm cloud gray” colors shown on the home office photo on the Benjamin Moore site, you can go to a conversion page on the EasyRGB site, enter the color name (like smoke or storm cloud gray) and select “Benjamin Moore color preview” from the drop-down menu, and you get a hex number for that real-world paint. Once you have the computer hex number for that smoke paint, which is #BAC6C6, or the storm cloud gray paint, which is #919183, you can use those hex numbers in any of the color-picking sites or web design software. And of course then any web programmer you know can then use that smoke color when he/she is coding your site.

Speaking of web programmers, they’ve come up with lots of fun free tools you can explore to be really whimsical about finding colors. At Colorrrs, everytime you press the spacebar you get a new fun color and of course its hex number. At color.hailpixel.com, you simply move your cursor all over the screen to find changing colors, and simply click when you have a color you like. Click a few times and you have an instant custom theme of colors. Maybe you want to choose colors by looking at big boxy swatches for easy comparison. At Paletton you move around a wheel to pick your poison. At Paletton, I noticed that I could enter a hex number by clicking on the RGB selector, and then by clicking the “examples” feature at the bottom of the screen, it generated a demo web page using a theme of colors based on my hex number. Which meant I could instantly see what a web page would look like using variations of the smoke paint color we just found a few minutes ago on the Benjamin Moore site. So next time you have a room painted, save that paint name!

If you think all this is a lot of fuss over just picking colors, remember that there are trade associations just made up of people who pick colors for companies for a living, and choose new hip colors of the season the same way that fashion designers bring out their clothing lines. I bet you didn’t realize you were trying out a new professional vocation by using the virtual color wheel, did you?

As always, there are lots more tools for picking colors, and I’ve hand-picked a few other posts of people who’ve picked tools that help you pick colors. Without further alliterative phrasing, feel free to browse this page or this page for more ideas on finding great colors for your lawyer site.

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