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Color In Design: Yellow

By Jennifer Farley



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Last week we took a look at the warm and vibrant orange in design. Today we’re staying on the same side of the color wheel with the color yellow. Just like orange and red, yellow is a warm color. It has connotations of nature, sunshine and spring and is generally considered to be a happy and hopeful color. Having said that, it can be a difficult color to work with and does not seem to be as popular in web design as the other colors we’ve looked at.

Yellow is a high visibility color, hence its use in health and safety equipment and hazard signs. This high visibility is obviously eye-catching, but possibly too eye-catching on screen. Yellow sitting on a white backround is extremely hard on the eye. As mentioned yellow has many positive connotations, but it does also have associations with cowardice and deceit, “yellow-bellied” and “yellow journalism”.

Using Yellow

There are several shades of yellow, ranging from cream to lemon to golden. Yellow works extremely well as a companion to darker colors. It can brighten up a dark design enormously and can have a similar effect to red and orange in terms of catching the eye without being as bold. Yellow and blue are a popular combination, the yellow perking up more subdued blues and creating high contrast. Purple is the complementary color to yellow and it is also a high contrast combination. For more earthy color schemes, mix yellow with brown and moss and olive green. Combined with light green and orange, yellow creates a citrus or fruity palette. Black and yellow can be combined to create an industrial look.

Yellow in logo design

Here’s a few internationally recognized logo designs featuring yellow:

image image image

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Yellow In Web Design

Below you’ll find a selection of web site using yellow either as a main background color or to highlight particular areas of the site.

Gareth Dickey


I Am Associates

Creative Spark

Creative Spark



4-5 Lochside Avenue


Strange Native


Agent 89


Twist Systems


Ward Design


Design Charts

What do you think of the color yellow in design? Is it a color you like or avoid? Have you seen any well designed yellow sites that you really like?

Jennifer Farley is a designer, illustrator and design instructor based in Ireland. She writes about design and illustration on her blog at Laughing Lion Design.

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