An eye-catching color scheme or design layout can change the face of a webpage. They can also determine whether a viewer will decide to stay around to view your content or leave the page immediately. In short, a lot can hinge on a simple color scheme.
Do you want to find out how to use colors and designs to attract viewers and, better yet, to keep them coming back for more? In this article, our team of experts breaks down the latest research in color psychology to recommend the best color schemes and rules. So, read on and discover how you can start seeing improvement in your web traffic right away.
The Science of Color
For centuries, scientists and philosophers have tried to uncover the nature of color. Although nearly all humans can perceive color, we still understand little when it comes to why we see colors and how we respond to them. However, every year more and more knowledge is generated in the fascinating field of color science.
The Physics of Color
Human beings are but one of many species that can discern colors. Our eyeballs are equipped with highly sophisticated retinas that have the capacity to tell apart the visual details of every object we see. Color is one of those many details that make the natural world more beautiful and more engaging.
While this is true, humans can only perceive a small fraction of the total possible color spectrum. This is because the human retina has evolved to recognize only those colors found on the rainbow spectrum. Indeed, there are countless wavelengths of light that produce colors and shades that the human eye will never be able to detect.
However, the human eye can still pick up on several hundred colors and hues. And, in fact, humans are uniquely gifted at telling apart one color from another when compared to other mammals like dogs and cats. Over time, this has made people extremely sensitive to colors and their meanings. It’s no wonder, then, that we react to colors the way that we do.
The Psychology of Color
Color is a powerful thing. Color is a valuable piece of information that informs people about important aspects of the object they are interacting with. In fact, our brains have developed to react to color on an emotional level. This is because our visual sense is connected to the various regions of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and hormone production.
Since our retinas are intertwined with our thyroid gland, the colors we see have an influence on our mood and, in turn, our behavior. From the moment you lay eyes on an object, you subconsciously make judgments about the object based on its color scheme. So, in a nutshell, you could say that colors have a major impact on your sales and web traffic.
Scientific research has shown that human beings link colors to emotions, feelings, and memories. But, not everyone knows which colors trigger their desired emotional response. Luckily for you, we make color science simple by breaking down the research on how each color affects a response in the viewer’s mind.
The color blue is an excellent choice for website creators that seek to establish trust, rapport, and sincerity with their viewer. For example, take Facebook. Facebook is a social media giant that handles unfathomable amounts of intimate user data. This requires significant trust. It makes sense, then, that their company branding utilizes the color blue.
Yellow, on the other hand, evokes feelings of optimism, joviality, and youth. Companies and mobile app platforms dedicated to younger audiences often use the color yellow to bring out these qualities. The mobile app Snapchat, which is popular with Millennials and other younger demographics, is known for its use of yellow branding.
The color red is composed of high-wavelength light on the color spectrum. As such, it is immediately recognizable to viewers and tends to ‘pop’ regardless of its context. Emotionally, red evokes feelings of urgency, love, warmth, and compassion. Charities and nonprofits dedicated to humanitarian causes, such as the International Red Cross, use the color red effectively.
Opposite of red is the color green. In contrast with red, green brings forward feelings of ease, relaxation, and fun. Green is located on the opposite end of the color spectrum to red, which means it is easy to process visually but can often slip through the cracks. In other words, green has the unfortunate aspect of not leaving viewers with a memorable impression as it is easily forgettable. Unsurprisingly, green is not often used in website brandings.
While technically not a color, black is an important shade that is found on the very end of the color spectrum. Black is the darkest of all colors. It signifies raw power, elegance, and sophistication. High-end brands such as Rolex, BMW, and Cartier often use black to their advantage by conveying sophistication and complexity.
Orange is an excellent color choice for web developers and eCommerce administrators. Essentially, orange is the perfect balance between a fun and youthful appearance and a mature and serious brand. As such, orange has been shown to lead to high conversion rates for eCommerce sites and tends to leave a lasting impression on viewers so that they come back for more.
Purple is the traditional color of royalty. It should come as no surprise, then, that purple and violet convey an aura of luxury and quality. However, unlike black, purple is also a warm and inviting color that can soothe the viewer. We recommend using purple branding if you want to portray sophistication without the aggressive tendencies of black or red shades.
Pink is the natural color of sexuality, peace, and the feminine spirit. Typically, pink is used for a girl and woman-oriented products and services to much success. For example, the Breast Cancer Foundation has used the color pink to their advantage in advocating for women’s causes. We recommend not using pink for masculine or male-centric audiences.
Color and Culture
The world is full of diverse cultures and peoples that have different backstories, traditions, and values. As a result, not everybody responds to colors and designs in the same fashion. For example, in the West the color black represents death. This is why black is often worn at funerals. However, in the East, the color white represents death and mortality.
The differences in how cultures respond to color points to the simple fact that cultural research should always be a priority for web designers. If you have a target market in mind that may deviate from your own culture, always take some time to find out what certain colors mean to them. Do not assume that colors are universally associated with certain events or objects.
Color and Gender
Like cultures, genders also respond differently to color. Market research in Europe and North America has demonstrated that men and women are attracted to different colors when making purchasing decisions. Specifically, men are more attracted to deep, cool colors like blue and green while women prefer colors that signify warmth and familiarity like red and pink.
Color and Class
One’s economic class also has a pronounced effect on color perception. Those of the American working class tend to respond positively toward primary colors that are familiar and universally recognizable (i.e. blue, red, or yellow). By contrast, upper-class members of society respond well to hybrid colors that are more complex such as mahogany or magenta.
Color and Design
The colors you use for your website should go hand-in-hand with your design. Always make sure that the colors you select complement, and do not conflict with, the structure and layout of the website. For instance, a black background should never feature blue text. This makes for hard-to-read text and an overbearingly dark aesthetic. Instead, match colors strategically and be sure to provide ample space between your use of different colors on the screen.
Tips for Using Color Designs Effectively
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. To make it easier for you, we put together some basic takeaways when it comes to using color for effective, memorable branding.
- Never use too many colors, this makes your branding less memorable and recognizable
- Some colors send similar emotional signals, while others send opposite signals; choose color schemes that invoke complementary emotions
- Children respond well to primary colors, while elderly folks are more attentive to secondary colors such as pink and green
- Do research on the culture of your demographic, as certain colors might be off-putting to segments of their population
- Colors invoke different emotional responses according to gender and class, so always exercise due diligence by researching what your target market does and doesn’t like