Using Color Choice Strategically in Web Design

10/25/2011
Written by Drew Keller

Believe it or not, choosing a color scheme may be one of the most crucial decisions you will have to make in the creation of a website. Colors have been known to have a real effect on the mind and body, affecting mood and behavior. If strategically leveraged, website colors can aid in branding, evoking desired feelings, emotions and associations relating to your company or brand, and even potentially affecting the behavior of the site’s visitors. The theory of color has been studied for hundreds of years. Studies have concluded that there are universal emotions, feeling, or meanings associated with most colors. However, past experiences and culture can also contribute to the way each person interprets and reacts to a certain color. For example, avocado, a light green color that was popular in the 60s and 70s, may remind certain people of those eras. If you are a sports fan, color schemes similar to those of your favorite sports team may be appealing to you, consciously or subconsciously. Colors can also cause physical reactions in people. Blue can calm and relax, while red has been known to cause perspiration and raise blood pressure. In fact, studies have shown that people tend to gamble more and make riskier bets under red neon lights, as compared to blue neon lights.[1. http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/Pantone.aspx?pg=19382&ca=29] Studies have also found that certain colors affect shopping behavior. Impulse buyers tend to respond to black, blue and red-orange, while people who typically stick to budgets tend to respond to teal, light blue, navy and pink.[2. http://tutorialblog.org/how-to-choose-colors/] Therefore, when creating an e-commerce website, you may want to consider incorporating some of these colors to potentially affect behavior, or increase the likelihood of impulse buying. Source: Silver Scope Web Design Color Associations: Blue: calming, professionalism, power, intelligence, trust, sadness, sky and sea Red: heat, love, action, danger, violence, excitement Black: power, strength, mystery, darkness, evil White: purity, innocence, simplicity, neutrality Green: earth, nature, life, natural, money, jealousy Yellow: sunshine, warmth, cheerfulness, curiosity, optimism Orange: fun, comfort, youth, creativity, health, Autumn (Halloween and pumpkins) Pink: calming, romance, femininity, sweetness Purple: royalty, faith, luxury, fantasy, justice, nostalgia (lavender) Brown: home, earth, stability, wholesomeness Sometimes the same color can evoke contrasting emotions or feelings. For example, the color red can evoke feelings of love and passion to one person, and can evoke feelings of violence and war to another. This could be based on past experiences and associations created by individuals, or by the mood of the individual at the time they are experiencing a color or color scheme. There are various shades of each color, which may also result in contrasting reactions. Royal blue may evoke exhilaration, while baby blue may evoke a more soothing, calming feeling, so be sure to keep in mind the various reactions users can have to the same color. The type of website in which you are creating may dictate which colors you choose. If you are creating a website for a bank, you may want to strategically incorporate blues to evoke feelings of trustworthiness and professionalism, or greens to evoke associations with wealth and money. Decisions such as these should ideally be made internally by strategic leaders in your company, because if web designers are outsourced, they may not fully understand the objectives of your company, as thus be less likely to recommend such tactics. There are other ways in which a website color scheme may be determined. If your company has an existing logo with determined colors, you may want to incorporate these logo colors into the design of the website, making your job a lot easier. Color choice will also naturally be determined by the way colors compliment and work well with one another. If you strategically choose two colors to begin, the additional colors could be selected on the basis of how well they compliment the colors you have already chosen. Font color must be carefully chosen as well, in order to make the text stand out from the background shades. The colors you choose will not solely determine the success of your website. However, they can give your website a strategic edge, or guide your initial color choice decisions. They can create desired associations and positive feelings surrounding your company or brand, and even contribute to affecting consumer behavior. For a great color scheme generator, check out kuler