Why Color Matters on the Web

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Lexie Lu
A UX/UI designer with expertise in marketing, web design, and graphic design.
Color can increase conversions, create feelings of warmth or even incite people to get behind a cause. If you want your website to really impact site visitors, then it is vital to consider the impact color has on them.
Choosing a color palette for your website isn’t an easy task. Not only do the colors need to be visually pleasing, but there is also an entire psychology behind color choice that can make or break your conversions.

Color can impact mood and even behavior under certain conditions. Research indicates that color may have a huge impact on the reason why people purchase a product. Some studies show that color may impact the decision to buy or not to buy by as much as 85 percent. At a minimum, the way the colors on your website work together can make or break your overall design.

Color can increase conversions, create feelings of warmth or even incite people to get behind a cause. If you want your website to really impact site visitors, then it is vital to consider the impact color has on consumers.

Color Increases Conversions

It's been proven that color can sway people to purchase a product. Scientifically, your brain reacts to certain colors by releasing hormones to your thyroid. These hormones trigger specific emotions, which in turn can encourage you to buy the product or service. Imagine you are shopping for a home alarm system and the colors on the website trigger a feeling of safety. You’d be much more likely to purchase that item.

Different colors bring out different emotions. While these might not be true for every single person in the world, the following colors will evoke the following emotions in most people:
  • Blue = Loyalty and Optimism
  • Green = Happiness, Comfort, Honesty
  • Yellow and Light Green = Stimulation
  • Orange and Dark Yellow = Cheerfulness
  • Red and Burnt Orange = Desire
  • Deepest Red and Purple = Elegance and Power
  • Indigo = Reliability
Keep in mind, too, that some colors seem perfectly suited for some business types. For example, an organic company or a greenhouse seems perfectly suited for green hues, while a company that sells caution signs would lean toward yellows.

Of course, there are a whole range of hues within each color, so use the ones that make the most sense for the message your brand is putting out there and that match your overall logo and design. While it is important to consider the emotions specific colors evoke, ultimately there are many other factors that go into choosing the perfect shade for your site.

Placement of Color

Is there a perfect placement for color on a website? Not exactly, but where you place your color can be just as important as what colors you choose for your website. The obvious places to use color include:

  • Borders
  • Headlines
  • Background
  • Banner
  • Call to action
  • Buttons
  • Popups
  • Logo
You can also enhance the use of color with the images you choose and smaller elements, such as bullet points, arrows and page dividers. The main thing you need to remember as you add color to these areas is that you also need contrast.

If you use a light blue for the background, your text needs to be quite dark or site visitors won’t be able to see it. Get as much input as possible to make sure your colors work well together.

Favorite Colors by Age

In studies about color and age, painting companies have found that people have a hard time deciding on color when it comes to age, such as choosing the perfect color for a nursery. Part of the reason is likely because while pastels are a calming color, as children age their taste expands and they like a wider variety of colors.

Throughout one’s life, the perception and preference for colors change. Eyesight also often changes as people age. The elderly severely dislike green and orange, but like golden tones in a paint color. You can see how even the age of your typical site visitor should be taken into consideration when choosing a color palette for your website.

Negative Space Color

Every website should have a balance between content and white space (also called negative space). While white space doesn’t necessarily have to be white, the neutral area that does not have content creates a balance to the overall look of your site.

It is important to consider the color you use for the background of your page, or the negative space, and to make sure you choose one that matches the overall tone of your website. For example, if you run a website where you sell children’s products, you’ll want it to look light, airy and fun. Therefore, your negative space might be white or pale yellow, for example. On the other hand, if you run a website that sells horror novels, then your negative space might be black or deep burgundy red.

It is important to consider not only the color of your call to action buttons and headings, but also the color of your negative space and how all those choices correlate with one another.

Gender and Color

Color impacts men and women in different ways. Understanding how color effects the different sexes can help you increase your conversions even more. Women prefer blue, purple and green and don't care for gray, orange or brown. Men tend to like blue, green and black and hate brown, orange and purple.

If your site is targeting both men and women, avoid purple, brown and orange. If targeting only women, avoid the colors women hate. If targeting only men, avoid the colors men hate.

Psychology Isn’t Everything

As with most rules with web design, it is important to understand the psychology behind color, but you shouldn’t be a slave to the rules. If it makes more sense for you to use brown for your website, even though you know women hate the color brown, then by all means use whatever makes the most sense for your branding.

These are no hard rules in regards to color. Although it might take some time and effort, you can always go back later and adjust the colors if they simply aren’t working for your target audience. Understand color psychology, but use your best judgment as well.

Author:Lexie Lu
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