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Color Theory from Raving Software: A Look into Red

By October 11, 2017May 23rd, 2020Design Tips

How to include red in your color scheme

This is part of our ongoing “Design Tips for Clients” series. Whether you’re one of our clients or you’re looking to learn about design, we’ll give you an introduction to color, typography, industry jargon and much more.

Color is an important component of your website. It helps set the tone of your site and enhances your business’s brand. Previously, we discussed different techniques to determine a color scheme for your website. When deciding on a color scheme, you need to consider how the colors work together, the tone they bring to your website, and how they affect your visitors — individually and in a group.

The colors you choose to include in your color palette should match your business. You can, of course, simply choose colors you like. However, we will provide you with information so you can make a more deliberate choice when choosing colors for your website.

We’ll start our look at individual colors with red.


Red is a dynamic color, not only regarding how it can be used but also in its many meanings.

Positive Connotations

Positive connotations of red.

  • Love
  • Passion
  • Courage
  • Bravery
  • Speed
  • Sales
  • Action
Negative Connotations

Negative connotations of red.

  • Danger
  • Violence
  • Fire
  • Blood
  • Anger
  • Tempers
  • Errors

These connotations are tied to red in general, but different versions of red and the colors they’re paired with bring a more specific meaning or tone to your design.

Light reds, which tend to be called tints of red, works well for a product or business needing to convey a message of romance. In contrast, dark reds are better suited for conveying a more serious tone.

Different color schemes that include the color red.

Dark reds, which are often shades of red, are created by mixing various amounts of black with the base color of red. Tints and shades are commonly used in monochromatic color schemes, which is a color scheme that uses only one color and yields a fairly clean look to a design. They can also be used in other color schemes to increase depth and interest.

The different meanings of red are further influenced by the colors paired with it. For example, a muted red, orange, and yellow can be used to convey a serious or elegant look while a bright red, orange, yellow pair well with a fun and dynamic tone.


Red is a great color to use if you want to call attention to a specific element on your site or encourage a visitor to take action. For example, online retailers will scratch out original prices and rewrite the sales prices below in red. This calls the visitor’s attention to the reduced price, which can encourage them to buy the item and complete the desired transaction.

Use red to make important message, such as warnings, stand out.

Another common use for red online is to denote errors or warnings. When a user enters information incorrectly on a form, the incorrect information is often highlighted in red or indicated with a red icon. Shipping services, such as Fed-Ex, use red to denote important messages on its tracking service pages. For example, Fed-Ex had red text at the top of its tracking pages about Hurricane Harvey. This note caught user’s attention and implied the hurricane may affect package delivery.


As useful as red can be, it does have some drawbacks. Too much red in a web design can be overwhelming and hard to look at for visitors. Red as a primary background color can make it difficult to read text, especially dark-color text. White text and other light colors show up better on a red background, but too much can still be difficult to read.

The same is true for large amounts of red text. A little bit of red text is easy to read and conveys that the information is important. Blocks of red text, however, are difficult to read as they can cause eye strain from trying to discern the text from the background.

Red also causes problems for visitors who are color blind. Too much red in a design may make content inaccessible or unattractive to visitors, causing you to lose potential customers. If red is used to denote significant content, such as calls-to-action or important messages, other techniques should be included in the element’s appearance so the significance of this content is noticeable to all visitors.


While any color can be used in a way that is detrimental to your website, red is one we urge to be used with caution. Brighter reds should be used sparingly throughout your design, specifically to indicate significant content or elements. If your design does require a large amount of red, we recommend mixing in tints and shades to increase the legibility and depth of the design.

Finally, red and green are complementary colors, and can be used together in a color scheme. However, we recommend you avoid using a “pure” red and green together as they have a strong connection to Christmas and don’t provide a lot of contrast.


Is there a design topic you want to know more about? Let us know in the comments or contact us through email.

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