UI Design

How Do You Mix Colors in UI Design?

When it comes to mixing colors in UI design, achieving the right balance is crucial for creating visually appealing and effective interfaces. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to mix colors in UI design.

A designer is mixing colors in a bucket

1. Understand color theory

Before mixing colors, it’s essential to understand basic color theory. This includes familiarizing yourself with the color wheel, primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Understanding complementary, analogous, and triadic color schemes is also vital as they can help you create balanced and harmonious designs.

2. Choose a dominant color

Start by selecting a dominant color for your UI. This color typically reflects your brand and is used more prominently throughout the interface. It sets the tone and mood for your design. The dominant color should align with the message and emotion you want to convey to your users.

3. Add secondary colors

Secondary colors should complement or contrast with the dominant color to create visual interest and hierarchy. These colors can be used for secondary actions, highlights, or to draw attention to important elements. Limit the number of secondary colors to avoid overwhelming the user.

4. Use neutral colors

Neutral colors like black, white, gray, and sometimes brown and beige are essential for creating balance. They can be used for background, text, and UI elements that don’t require immediate attention. Neutrals help reduce visual noise and make your primary and secondary colors stand out.

5. Consider contrast and accessibility

Ensure there is enough contrast between text and background colors for readability. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text. High contrast makes your design more accessible to everyone, including users with visual impairments.

6. Test color combinations

It’s crucial to test your color combinations in various scenarios, including different lighting conditions and screen settings. Use tools like Adobe Color, Coolors, or Color Hunt to experiment with different palettes and ensure they work well together.

7. Apply color to UI elements wisely

Apply your chosen colors to UI elements thoughtfully. Use color to highlight important elements like buttons, links, or notifications. However, use vibrant colors sparingly to avoid causing visual fatigue or drawing attention away from critical information.

8. Maintain consistency

Ensure consistency in your color usage across all screens and components. This consistency helps create a cohesive look and feel for your UI and improves user experience by making navigation more intuitive.

9. Gather feedback

Get feedback on your color choices from others, including users, designers, and stakeholders. They might provide insights you hadn’t considered and help you refine your color scheme to better suit your audience.

10. Iterate and refine

Finally, be open to iteration. Your initial color choices might not be perfect, and that’s okay. Be prepared to make adjustments based on user feedback, testing results, and practical application.


Mixing colors in UI design is an art and a science. By understanding color theory, choosing the right color combinations, and testing your designs for readability and accessibility, you can create visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces. Remember, the goal is to enhance the user experience, so always keep your users in mind when making color decisions.

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