Choosing colours for your website

Ben Gammon 25th October 2011 , , , , , , , ,
 

You may not realise it, but the colour scheme that you choose for your website, logo & brand identity is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. Think about how you want your visitors to feel when they view your website and then pick colours to suit.

Colour is important because it effects not only your mind, but your body as well. Studies have shown that the colour red can stimulate your senses, and even raise your blood pressure. Casinos have been known to mycasinotop use red neon lights because it’s been said that people gamble more while under the glow of a red light. On the other hand, blue tends to have the opposite effect; It’s been shown to calm the mind, and relax the body.

The Psychology of Colour

For hundreds of years, scientists have studied the theory of colour, and its effects on the human mind and body.

Over time, studies have repeatedly shown that there are “standard” emotions, feeling, or meanings associated with almost every colour. Keep in mind these associations are not definite. Past experiences, culture, and more can change how a person reacts to a certain colour.

Colour Association / Feeling / Emotion / Meaning

Black intelligence, authority, power, strength, stability, mystery, secrecy, evil, dark, depressing, mourning, grieving

White clean, pure, innocent, neutral, simplicty, plain, boring

Red fire, hot/heat, love, passion, excitement, impulse, adventure, action, danger

Blue water, cool, trust, seriousness, success, calm, power, professionalism

Green earth, grass, nature, life, health, money, peace

Orange creativity, comfort, fun, youth, affordable, warning/hazard

Purple Royalty, faith, justice, luxury, fantasy

Yellow amusement, curiosity, cheerfulness, playfulness, caution

Pink softness, sweetness, love, innocence, youthfullness, tenderness

It’s important to note how colours can evoke emotions from both ends of the spectrum, sometimes completely opposing themselves. For example, the colour black can evoke emotions of power and strength, but it can also represent evil and depression. The colour orange can signal comfort and fun, or hazard and warning.

Choosing What Colours to Use

When choosing the colours for your website there are many things to take into consideration other than the psychology of colours:

  • Existing colours: If your company already uses certain colours then you should incorporate them into the website. This helps with your brand awareness.
  • Type of site: The type of site you are creating will heavily influence the colours. If you are making a site for your neighborhood farmers’ market then you probably want to consider earth tones that convey the thought of nature, and being natural. Greens, blues, and browns are perfect choices. Business — or “corporate” — websites tend to use blue, white, and green to signal trust, power, or money.
  • Target Audience: Your target audience should also play an important role in the colour selection. Younger people tend to like orange, red, and other vibrant colors, while senior citizens, or those with vision problems would probably appreciate a more neutral colour palette of white, gray, and black.

Colours Associated with Shopping

Scientist have found that certain colours cause certain types of people to react differently when shopping:

  1. Impulse Buyers tend to respond to blue, black, and red-orange.
  2. Those who make (and stick to) budgets respond to teal, light blue, navy, and pink.
  3. Traditional people respond better to sky blue, rose, or pink.

Create a Custom Colour Combination

It’s important that the colours you choose work well together. Using the wrong colour combination can make your site hard to read, or worse, it can cause the user to become uncomfortable and close the page altogether.

One of the key things to watch out for is text colour. You want to make sure that it contrasts (stands out) from the background colour. If your users can’t see your text, they can’t read it!

When coming up with a colour scheme for a client’s site, I often start with five colours: three “base” colours that are related (colours that are similar, or that do not contrast much with each other), and then two colours to use as “accents” or “highlights” that contrast with the base colors. These five colours are your starting point. You can adjust the brightness, hue, or saturation of a colour (think forest green vs. neon green) to find the perfect combination that works for your site.

Where to Find Inspiration for Colour Schemes

There are many sources of inspiration to help you choose the colours for your website. You can find sources all around you — take a walk outside to find “natural” inspiration or thumb through your favorite magazine to look for current colour trends.

Here are some of my favorite places to find colour schemes online:

Putting it all Together

For most of us, colours play a large role in our everyday lives. They effect the way we feel and the way we act. Choosing the wrong colour scheme for your website can have a devastating effect. Take the time to carefully choose colours that work well together and that convey your company’s goal, attitude, or message.

And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! There are no rules that say your corporate website has to be navy blue or stark white, plain and boring. With experience and practice, almost any combination of colours can be used together.

Further Reading for Making Colour Choices

Article courtesy of TutorialBlog.org.

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