Importance of color and shape, from designers point of view

One of the most difficult and easiest at times decisions that designer has to resolve is usage of color and selection of shape of an object when doing website design and graphic design. Different colors and shapes mean different things, help or distract user from understanding subject of an article, promotion, brand or whole website.

In eyes of a client, selection of colors or shapes usually is a subjective choice based on some science, but mostly intuition. Designers, especially experienced ones, do this selection automatically, based on expertise and experience. Often, this needs to be revisited and can be one of most contentious subjects of disagreement during any design project.

Following general properties of each will help to guide yourself in working with your designer to understand how they think of color and shapes.

Color choice

  • Warm vs Cold
  • Saturation
  • Positive vs Negative
  • Industry specifics
  • Competition branding colors
  • Potentially lost if color blind
  • Usage changes depending on lighting
  • Works in b/w or not
  • Clash of colors
  • Lack of balance
  • Understanding of basics of color theory
  • Difficulty with reproduction in print
  • Screen vs paper usage
  • Standards


  • Dynamic vs static
  • Flexible vs rigid
  • Works with certain colors better the with others
  • Size relative to other elements on the page
  • Positive vs negative space
  • Invisible shapes
  • Simplicity, iconography
  • Usage in infographics, illustrations
  • Faux 3d
  • Planes vs edges
  • Mark, sign, emblem, visual associations (good and bad)
  • Combination with text
  • Heavy vs light

Thinking in these terms will help you to identify certain characteristics and properties that may be best translated via one or another or combination of the two. One advice though – don’t micromanage a project and try to mention these to a designer without getting ready to hear a really long answer!

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