Color affects a design greatly. However, a design with too many colors can easily overwhelm a viewer. Sometimes a minimalist approach can help draw the eye of the visitor to specific content – the right content.
In this collection of websites, we focused on designs that used three colors for their primary design elements. However, a few of these sites do include one or two highlight colors beyond the 3 main colors. Nonetheless, these websites were just too well-done and close enough to the 3 color criteria that we could not help but include them in this collection.
Notice how the colors help you focus your attention to where it is needed. Can you see how the brand was tied into each of these designs? You can also see how using full-color graphics alongside a limited color palette is still useful without going too far down the minimalist design path. The following examples will show you that websites that use a maximum of 3 colors can still be effective.
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A nice minimalist design, that uses just enough color to draw the eye to important content on the site.
The large, blue photographic background is a nice contrast to the white main text and green brand name, which draws a reader’s attention first. The light blue text draws the eye downward to a brief description of the company and a list of their impressive clients. Nice use of color to create hierarchy!
Different shades of grey on a white background give this web page a sophisticated minimalist appearance. The colored text in the page menu act as a guide in navigating the site.
Just like their branding look and tone, this website design is also "short and sweet." Way to go with maintaining a branded look!
Minus the illustration, this website incorporates only 3 colors into its design: yellow, black, and white, which is a nice reference to a light bulb, when you think about it. And a lightbulb works well with the company name, Creative Spark. Interesting.
Cute name and a cute mostly 3 color design, this one is simple yet creative at the same time.
The dark color scheme and limited use of color give this site a sophisticated, professional look and feel.
The text colors of orange and blue coordinate with the illustrated background and cute little mascot.
Grey, blue, and pink on a white background provide a very "happy" tone, which seems like a good choice for a volunteering/charity program.
This clever design uses colors of, well, drugs! White, grey, and blue are usually the colors you see on pill boxes, so these designers really ran with the idea of "Design is a drug."
Ah, David Airey, one of the most popular brand identity designers in the graphic design blogging community. His site is minimalist featuring only black, orange and grey text on a white background. Simple yet effective!
The textured background looks like the fancy paper some people use for resume and CV printing. It is interesting, too, that the pinkish-red text fades to light grey when you hover your mouse over it.
Black, white, and grey, along with a few hints of orange text, are the main colors used in this design. These colors give this website a sort of "news" appearance.
Dark and light grey and red are used interchangeably in this design. While this design could be a bit more well organized in terms of what colors were used where, they did stick with the three colors of the title very well.
This site uses 3 colors quite effectively in a simple website layout. While the text could be better organized, the green highlight stands out nicely against the black and white text.
Okay, so this is another that stretches beyond the 3 color scheme a bit, but it is such a beautiful site that it screams, "Look at me!" The yellow highlights and text links (with a little bit of orange underlining) contrasts nicely with the black and grey and occasional white text. Beautiful!
Dark grey, black, and a grass green blend well to give this site a refreshing professional yet unique appearance.
Starting to notice a pattern in the use of black, grey, and a bright color on a white background? Maybe this type of color scheme is popular because it creates a minimalist look with just enough color to draw attention… and this website is no exception.
The strip of black on the side is a nice touch that adds to the "film" look and feel. Grey and red text keep this site simple, which is very important with all of the images that must be included.
Blue along with shades of grey keep this design minimalist and traditional. The 3 different colors are used nicely to draw attention to important text.
This website does a great job of creating a "gentleman’s" appeal with manly colors of dark grey, a grain color (in keeping with the title), and white.
Orange along with black and grey (and a tiny bit of white text) helps to break up this text-heavy site and make it interesting.
This site mostly uses the dark and light greys of the geometric shapes, but blue is also a highlighting color, along with a bit of pink. So, really, this is another variation of the black, grey, and highlight color scheme.
Grey, some white, and lots of blue make for a very simple color scheme. On the other hand, the blue seems a bit overwhelming, and the flashing graphics don’t help much.
Technically, this site only uses about 3 colors: black and grey text in white boxes, and the pink textured background. But, wait! Close the page, reopen it, and the background is now blue, no, yellow. Okay, you can quit reopening the page, now. Disappointed there’re are only three colors to play with, aren’t you?
Again, Dark grey, light grey, and a highlight color make for a simple, effective color scheme for web design.
While having the text change color when you hover the mouse over it can be fun, this one may take advantage of this feature a little too much. But maybe they can get away with it because of their simple, 3-color design.
Grey/black with orange and white add to this very well-organized design. Each color seems to stick to a strict use, which really takes navigation of this site to great heights.
A simple color scheme helps to tone down the busy-ness of this site; however, less orange would have helped the design even more.
The navigation of this site is a bit different, something not always recommended. Yet the dark grey, light grey, and white color scheme helps keep the site simple enough to learn fairly quickly.
Editor’s note: This post is written by Tara Hornor for Hongkiat.com. Tara has a degree in English and writes about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.