Here are the most popular websites by search traffic in the US for 2020 so far. We've pulled out the most dominant colors they use in their user interface. This is a result of their design teams iterating over time learning how to make the ideal experience for their users. A fun thing I love to do is browse through a website in the Wayback Machine to see the iterations to their web design over time.
With no further ado, let's dive in.
Monthly traffic: 1,625,928,544
First up, we have YouTube. As the classic example of a user generated community, their use of a monochromatic color scheme allows their user content to stand out while the rest of the site's buttons dial back the stylistic features like extra chrome, button lines etc. The color red is used sparingly throughout the site experience to make their brand presence.
Monthly traffic: 1,032,257,682
Next, we have Wikipedia, our collective human hive mind. The most important UI here is the blue link that is the connective UI between all the pages. Our branched experience is guided by the contrast of the black and blue text. The subtle pastel colors are used to identify different types of information on a page.
Monthly traffic: 535,672,329
Twitter's web design has changed a lot over the years. The 2020 design has minimalized to a simple color scheme that consists of a dominant blue used for main call to actions, and a beautiful set of bluish grays to create a hierarchy of text styles.
Monthly traffic: 512,517,207
Compared to Twitter, Facebook's color scheme is a bit more complex. It involves many more notifications and vibrant colors taking you from one corner of the UI to the next. It's surprising that Facebook hasn't mimicked more of Youtube's philosophy especially since they too rely on a lot of photography and user generated content.
Monthly traffic: 492,468,801
Amazon's web design is heavily anchored by the dark navigation bar with the search box. Since their shopping experience relies on intent to buy, reminding shoppers where to search and how accessible it is is very important for them. Light blues and yellows are used to accent the large boxes of white and bring attention to prime branding and other special deals.
Monthly traffic: 189,284,057
Yelp's design is similar to Youtube. The wide use of whitespace makes way for the vibrant reds and blues to get the visitor's attention.
Monthly traffic: 184,283,420
Reddit is a special one on this list. Since the value of Reddit is that anyone can customize a subreddit to their audience's liking, there is no universal color scheme for Reddit. On the homepage, it resorts to using bluish light grays and white to mark the community board layout.
Monthly traffic: 168,686,113
Much like Amazon, IMDB relies on the search for its core experience. A darker color scheme is used all around the website to remind users of the movie going experience. Movie pages have a lighter appearance to give more attention to the blue text links and images.
Monthly traffic: 168,358,254
Of all the websites on this list, Fandom definitely wins the title for most unique set of colors. While teal feels like the brand's most dominant color, the darker teals and bright neon green does a great job in supporting the composition.
Monthly traffic: 160,008,934
Such a friendly set of colors. Although their user interface sets the expectation for a minimal set of colors like YouTube, they seem to be using muted versions of green, blue and yellow to give the website a splash of vibrancy,
Monthly traffic: 107,547,225
Tripadvisor uses the very unique set of light neon colors, marking them separately from the other travel websites. Although the colors by itself can feel jarring in how bright it is, when paired together, the combination seems to work. To balance the eccentric color scheme, the color black is used for the input elements like textboxes and buttons.
Monthly traffic: 95,560,034
Instagram takes a page out of YouTube's brand color scheme. To highlight the photographs taken by Instagram users, the user interface uses black and white elements to blend it into the background. The primary colors like blue is reserved for buttons and the range of yellow to pink for their popular stories feature.
Monthly traffic: 94,951,789
As opposed to Amazon, Walmart uses bold colors to highlight specials in a carousel layout. This prioritizes the curated products over the grid on the homepage. Accent colors of yellow is used for the call to action buttons.
Monthly traffic: 86,673,328
Oh the Craigstlist design that everyone loves to hate on. No matter what your opinion is, you have to admit it is very iconic. On a large canvas of white and light gray, a saturated blue is used for links. Orange and light yellow is used to highlight something new in the interface.
Monthly traffic: 85,427,056
My eyes! Ebay sure does love a very bright set of colors. The large splashes of neon on the website directs your eyes to the different product categories of the marketplace. While YouTube wants to blend its web design to the background, Ebay directs your attention all around the webpage.
Monthly traffic: 71,106,847
For a workplace social network like Linkedin, their color scheme comes across as serious and professional. By using muted tones of gray with darker and less saturated blues, it feels like the suit and tie of color schemes!
Monthly traffic: 68,140,558
Tons of color here! The Google Play store clearly wants attention to be directed to the different categories of things you can buy. The design language of YouTube has been translated here as well. With the use of a monochromatic color scheme, the buttons use a shade of gray while the colors are used as guides.
Monthly traffic: 65,456,494
Healthline is able to make a serious topic like health into a fun and personal experience with their use of color. By apply a fresh tint of teal and fuchsia, they were able to give the visuals on the site a vibrant energy. As a design tip, using rounded corners also makes the layout feel more friendly.
Monthly traffic: 59,552,312
We're starting to see patterns in community sites now. Much like Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest, Etsy uses a bright orange to highlight main areas and a very light set of grays to paint the rest of the site's elements. There is a very strong case of highlighting user content weighing on the design decisions of marketplace sites.
Monthly traffic: 59,104,906
Indeed's design is predominantly white with blue sparingly used as a color scheme. Compared to Wikipedia, Indeed uses more white space making it feel more than minimal. It's a tough balance to get right!
Monthly traffic: 58,415,329
Apple's design feels very editorial when compared to the user generated communities we've looked at so far. Their wide use of black and dark grays sets a cinematic presence while important call to actions like announcements and buy buttons wear a brighter blue color.
Monthly traffic: 56,865,851
ESPN focuses on the reds and yellows for their dominant and saturated colors. A monochromatic set of grays build the rest of the layout. Photography and videos are big part of their design language. The grays allow for the images to stand out.
Monthly traffic: 55,318,117
WebMD uses color schemes that are often used in medical or clinical environments. The vibrant blues along with the neon blue brings a certain type of authority to the site. Blue in general is avery calming color. The darker grays are used for the body text making it very readable, meeting accessibility standards.
Monthly traffic: 53,500,181
Last but not least, the minimal New York Times masthead carries with it a simple and high contrasting monochromatic color scheme. A lot of what gives the website character is their regular and italic typography. This simplifies the need for many colors and also leaves room for their photography and graphics with vibrant colors.
The top 25 data was sourced from ahrefs.com