What is monochromatic art, how does it impact accessibility, and why top UI designers love it

Jun 9, 2022Mikenzi Ross

When it comes to UI design, different types of designers will strive to stay ahead of trends, color theory, and psychology. One strategy that looks to have staying power is monochromatic design.

But what is monochromatic design—and why should you care?

Keep reading to learn how this color strategy can have a powerful impact on UI, and why its simple color palette might be the best way to grab attention and stand out from the crowd.

What is monochromatic design?

The monochromatic design scheme uses different values, shades, and tints within the same hue. Some immediately picture black and white or greyscale, but you can use any color in monochromatic design—such as varying shades of blue, for example.

Some may also hear monochromatic design and assume it’s too dull for an effective and eye-catching UI—but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

a low-fidelity mock-up of a monochromatic design scheme as a webpage

This simplistic color theory lets designers play with shapes and elements more freely, allowing for a vibrant brand voice to shine through without sacrificing sophistication.

Why use monochromatic design in UI design?

Now that we know what monochromatic design is, we’ll explain why many types of designers (be them from, TDP, the pros at Design Pickle, and beyond) adore using it in their designs.

  • Monochromatic design looks clean and very professional. If you’re going for intense but formal branding, the monochrome design scheme maintains an air of sophistication that can help you stand out from the competition
  • Monochromatic design simplifies an otherwise busy design—allowing you to add additional elements without overwhelming the viewer
  • Monochromatic design does wonders for progression and “logical relationship” building. By using different values of one color (hue), you can guide the viewer’s psychology on a clear path, as well as influence levels of importance
  • Monochromatic design is an easy way to ensure visual cohesion

Monochromatic design and accessibility

One central UI/UX element that brands must never overlook is accessibility for all users. Across the world, over 2 BILLION people suffer from some form of visual impairment. Be it color blindness, low vision, or blindness.

Effective UI is accessible to all users. Implementing high-contrast strategies is one of the best ways to help your monochromatic design scheme stay accessible.

Even though you’re using colors within the same hue, the contrast between values must be a top priority. Even folks with 20/20 eyesight can struggle to interpret a webpage or app if the background colors and foreground elements (text, buttons, etc.) lack contrast.

You can read more about color and accessibility in envatotuts+’s article “Accessibility Basics: Designing For Visual Impairment” by Graeme Fulton. We highly recommend it!

A light grey background with three circles laid on top. Each circle is a different shade of grey. The right circle is the lightest grey, the center circle is medium grey, and the left circle is dark grey. Above the circles is an arrow. Above each end of the arrow reads (from left to right): High contrast, low contrast

Is a monochromatic design strategy right for you?

There are several factors to consider before deciding if a monochromatic design strategy is right for your brand. Ultimately, your decision comes down to elements like your unique brand voice, product(s), and market analysis. However, there are industry examples where monochromatic design is super effective.

For example, this color scheme is highly-effective for fashion and eCommerce brands because it allows products to stand out and speak for themselves. Having a muted, monochromatic design lets products pop off the screen.

If you have a variety of colorful offerings, a monochrome theme can avoid visual clutter and overwhelm. Again, it’s most important to assess your brand voice, audience, and competitors.

The good news is, monochromatic design is adaptable and fluid, making it a reliable option to ensure visitors enjoy visual consistency—which builds trust.

Monochromatic design comes in many different styles

While monochrome seems simple on the surface, it’s actually quite in-depth. It appears in many applications—from a website to a water bottle. So it’s worth comparing styles like high-contract to greyscale to get a better idea of what speaks most true to your brand and your goals for the product.

Are you curious about monochromatic design, but aren’t sure whether it’s right for you? Contact us. We’re happy to jump on a discovery call and discuss your vision to see if it’s a good fit for your product.

(If you hire a UI designer on our TDP team, we’re always on top of the latest UI trends and strategies to ensure your product excites and compels your ideal users to come back time and time again)

We hope this post has inspired your imagination to see the world in a new, monochromatic light! As you can see, monochromatic design can be anything but bland—and allows for many engaging opportunities to showcase your brand and enhance user experiences.

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