With flat design, there came a heavy focus on colors and their usage throughout a website, with importance placed on brand colors and those that compliment them. One area that may have been initially overlooked was the usage of pastel shades, which have a few benefits:
- There are a lot of pastel shades to choose from, and many mingle. From blue greens that are soft and easy to incorporate, to earthy tones of brown and green, there are many different areas where pastels are applicable to a site’s color scheme. Consider the idea of a blue-centric gradient, for example; at many steps in that gradient pattern, you may find that there are dark or light pastel shades that can play well with your negative space, whether it is white or black.
- They’re friendly. Pastels, as mentioned, are soft. When using rounded typography or iconography, pastels are often a very nice match, especially if you want to draw in a demographic that wants things on the site to feel cozy and inviting. Pastels are not a high action, high energy color, so they may not be your dominant color choice, but they definitely have their place on a wide range of sites, from banks to bakeries.
One of the most popular applications of the pastel scheme is to go with the monochromatic, gradient look, and you will find that with many of the more popular and successfully designed sites, that will be the case. The focus is placed on the “brand” color, with pastels working to support and couch it in warm, friendly, and inviting terms. That’s what pastels are perfect for, and it’s what you can get from them in ways that other colors would never be able to match.
Although it’s been repeated many times here that pastels aren’t very bold, strong colors, they do provide a very nice foil for those that are. There are two ways that you can approach this:
- Pastels as negative space in background images and color choices can work well when bold colors are at the forefront, although it’s not recommended to completely replace your whites with pastel shades, no matter how light. The main reason for this: whites are exceptionally sharp on digital screens, and failing to use them could actually dull your overall look, especially on mobile devices.
- Pastels in contrast can also create a bold look. Strong pastel oranges on blue fields can create the type of distinction that you would normally associate with stronger color choices, and can even evoke a sense of “retro” style when properly selected. You can use your imagination for this, but be aware that the mixed nature of many pastel shade means you have to watch out for pastels that are too close in their color families.
Pastels aren’t perfect for every site, but they can work wonders for designers that are looking for ways to make their interface really stand out.