JavaScript / December 17, 2012 / 3 mins read / By Clay Risser

Why You Should Use Descriptive Names for Colors in Your Palette or Theme

When it comes to designing a user interface, choosing the right colors is an important aspect to consider. A well-designed color palette can help to create a cohesive and visually appealing user experience, while a poorly chosen color scheme can be confusing and difficult to use.

One way to ensure that you have a consistent and effective color palette is to use descriptive names for your colors. Rather than just using color codes like #0074D9, you can give your colors descriptive names like primary, secondary, or tertiary. Here are a few reasons why this is a good idea:

Clarity: Using descriptive names for colors can help to make your code easier to read and understand. For example, if you have a color called success in your palette, it will be clear that this color is being used to indicate success in your user interface. This can be especially helpful if you have multiple team members working on the same project, as it can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Consistency: Using consistent names for colors throughout your code can make it easier to maintain and update your theme. If you use the same names for colors in different parts of your code, it will be easier to find and update those colors when needed. This can save time and reduce the risk of errors when you are making changes to your user interface.

Branding: Using descriptive names for colors can also help to reinforce your brand identity. For example, if you have a brand color that is unique to your company, you might want to use a descriptive name like brand-color rather than just using the color code. This can help to create a cohesive and consistent look and feel for your brand.

To give you an idea of how this can work in practice, let’s consider an example. Suppose you are designing a website for a travel agency. You want to create a color palette that is professional, yet also reflects the fun and adventurous nature of travel. Here is a sample palette with descriptive names:

export const colors = {
  primary: "#0074D9", // blue
  secondary: "#FF4136", // red
  tertiary: "#2ECC40", // green
  highlight: "#FFFFFF", // white
  accent: "#000000", // black
  background: "#D3D3D3", // light-gray
  text: "#808080", // gray
  heading: "#696969", // dark-gray
  link: "#ADD8E6", // sky-blue
  button: "#0000FF", // dark-blue
  border: "#0000A0", // dark-blue
  success: "#90EE90", // light-green
  warning: "#FFFF00", // yellow
  error: "#FF0000", // red
  info: "#87CEEB", // light-blue
  muted: "#DCDCDC", // light-gray
  dark: "#333333", // dark-gray
  light: "#F5F5F5", // light-gray

As you can see, each color in the palette has a descriptive name that reflects its role in the user interface. For example, the primary color is used for important elements like the navigation bar, while the secondary color is used for accents and highlights.

In conclusion, using descriptive names for colors in a palette or theme can help to make your code more readable, maintainable, and consistent, and can also help to reinforce your brand identity. So next time you are designing a color palette for your user interface, consider giving your colors descriptive names rather than just using color codes.