The color of our food can make it taste better. The color of our car can lead us to speed. The color of a nursery can cause a baby to cry more. This fascinating phenomenon is studied by behavioral psychologists who have touted it color psychology. Color psychology can be leveraged to influence the human decision-making process in a range of fields, but it is most effective in branding and marketing. Published in 2006, Satyendra Singh’s “Impact of Color on Marketing” reported that color is the single most influential visual element in marketing. Singh also found that consumers decide their likeness of a brand within 90 seconds and up to 90% of that decision is based on the colors chosen.
Thus, the first step in ensuring the success of your website is to select colors that will subtly persuade your viewers’ towards the goal of your site, whether that be to purchase a product, to donate to a cause, or even simply just to read it. Frankly, if you pick the right colors, you win.
To start, let’s discuss the colors of the rainbow and their impact on the psyche:
Red is a polarizing color as it has both extremely positive and negative associations. On the one hand, it represents love, intimacy, and energy, whereas on the other it stands for danger, violence, and fire. Avoid red on professional, business, and nature-forward pages. Otherwise, use it when directing attention towards something you want to stand out. If your message plays more toward the positives of red, try using washing out the harshness with a tint creating a sophisticated, yet playful pink.
In general, orange is regarded as an energetic, warm, and youthful color. It is best suited for pages geared towards children, healthy food, and entertainment, as it lacks the sophistication necessary for a more professional page. A darker orange pairs well with earthy tones and is appropriate for nature-based content.
Being the lightest color on the spectrum, yellow evokes cheerful excitement, happiness, and optimism. However, be wary of too much yellow on your page for it can easily look gaudy and tawdry. To evade this mistake, use muted yellows or pair it with colors such as green, grey, and white. When implemented correctly, yellow is suitable for almost any type of content.
The color green is the least straining on the human eye, which improves the readability of content and creates a calming effect. It is also widely recognized as the color of nature and thus represents growth, fertility, and fortune. Add green to your website if you have a brand centered around health and wellness or if you simply want to add some serenity to the page.
Blue is the most common favorite color in the world and is one of the most used colors on national flags. It elicits authority, intellect, power, but also dependability and safety. Viewers almost immediately trust brands that choose blue as their dominant color. Add blue to your website if you aim to appeal to a broad audience and seek to convey intelligence and credibility.
Purple is royal. It is often regarded as the color of mystery, wisdom, and wealth, but can also appear artificial due to its seldomness in nature. This color can be used on semi-professional sites but is best suited for beauty, spiritual, or female-forward brands.
Now that we know about some color basics, let’s take a look at how to combine colors:
There are four common ways to create a color scheme: monochromatic, analogous, triadic, and complementary.
The monochromatic color scheme is made of variations of the same color. To do this, start with a color and then add white to create a lighter tint or add shades to produce a darker hue. This is often regarded as a foolproof color scheme for it is fairly easy to produce and difficult to prove disastrous. Monochromatic color schemes convey a sophisticated, yet simple message effectively.
The analogous color scheme is similar to the monochromatic. It is made up of colors that are close on the color wheel. To maximize attractiveness, choose one dominant color and one or two accent colors. Dominant violet accented by red and red-violet would be an example of an analogous scheme. This combination is often found in nature and thus elicits an instinctively harmonious, calming effect.
The most commonly used color scheme is triadic, though it is not the easiest to master. It is created by choosing three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. As an example, violet, green, and orange are each 120 degrees apart. This type of color scheme provides a lot of contrast, offering stark differences between the background color, text, and other highlighted areas. Like in the analogous scheme, try to find one dominant color and accent it with the two others. Use this color scheme when you want to convey vibrancy and excitement on your website.
Lastly, the complementary color scheme is formed by choosing two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel, like green and red. This scheme has the most contrast and fits best with a website that wants to direct attention to something specific, such as a call to button or a particular product. Be wary of this color scheme if your primary intention is not one-track attention.
Associations with color are still extremely personal and can elicit a whole range of emotions within a consumer. There is no exact science to determining the best colors for your website, but these tips outlined above can aid you in attracting the right attention to your page.