Unveiling the Hidden World of Color in UI Design
The education I went through was titles “communication and multimedia design”, it was only recently that it become very clear to me why an education that teaches me to design is called “communication”. Because every choice we make as a designer, communicates something. The same goes for colors: they communicate something.
Time to understand this topic a little better.
In 2021 I collected 196 random colors from popular Dribbble submissions. Why? To figure out what the popular & most used colors in UI design are, and to check if the century-old color theories truly dominate modern design we seem to admire.
The big color question
Do the designs you and I like, contain the color scheme’s which we’ve been thought for centuries? Or is there something else going on we’re missing?
I had a gut feeling it was the latter.
I randomly picked 196 colors from about 20-30 interface designs, found on Dribbble, I could conclude I was both right and wrong.
I learned something new that I had not read anywhere else before.
My main conclusion was that warm-cold color combinations are indeed popular. But, the colors that are neither warm or cold, like green, are less popular. Very unpopular to say the least.
In other words, we like contrast. We’ve seen designers adding contrast in shape, typography and so on, but color is no different: we need some contrast there as well.
Below a series of poster that visualize the results.
Notice how the colors form a hourglass-like shape, which visually communicates the lesson learned here very clearly.
So, what are the most popular colors in UI design?
Popular color in UI design
What the first three posters highlight exceptionally well is the use of warm-cold color combinations. People might not dislike green or purple more than others, but the warm-cold combination seems popular.
No surprise, considering all kinds of contrast makes a design more pleasing to look at, whether it’s a contrast in color, typography, or shape.
Leading to the answer to the main question: colors that are clearly either warm or either color are most used in UI design. Think blue tones, warm pink, yellow, orange, and red.