Agreeing the predominant colours for a website may seem like a fairly innocuous decision based on personal taste but it is worth noting that there is much evidence in the field to support the psychology behind different colour choices.
Colours can heavily influence our attitude and emotions. Here’s the scientific part, when our eyes come into contact with a colour, a message is sent to the hypothalamus region of the brain, which then triggers a series of signals to the pituitary gland, on to the endocrine system and then to the thyroid glands. These glands then respond by releasing hormones responsible for changes in mood and emotion, which ultimately dictates our behaviour.
According to New York Times author and ‘web influencer’ Neil Patel, 85% of the reason you purchased a specific product is influenced by colour, so colour plays an instrumental role in website conversion rates.
An article from the University of Winnipeg, Canada suggests that it takes just 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product, but as much as 60-90% of that ‘thinking time’ is determined by the colour of the product.
So, selecting the right colour for a website design should be based less on indulging a client’s personal taste and more on proven thinking.
Certain colours appeal to specific genders. If you are targeting women, opt for blue, purple and green and avoid grey, orange and brown. A survey on colour and gender identified blue as the leading colour preferred by women with a lead of 12% over purple. Other studies have revealed that women generally have an aversion to earthy tones and prefer primary colours with tints.
Men on the other hand tend to shy away from purple, but they also shun orange and brown, and are mainly attracted to blue, green and black.
There’s a good reason why blue is one of the most used colours in web design and is the colour of choice for Facebook, the world’s biggest social network. Blue conveys trustworthiness, serenity, calmness and order. No surprise then that it is the colour regularly favoured by many banks and PayPal. Whilst blue is deemed a great choice for most industry sectors, it is rarely used for food related content.
Trigger heightened emotions
Yellow is a colour associated with warning but can also be used to infer playfulness (remember those famous ‘golden arches’?). The science backing this paradox suggests that yellow stimulates the brain’s ‘excitement’ centre, triggering a state of heightened emotion – which can be happiness or anxiety. Often web designers will use yellow to add a sense of urgency to a call to action.
Back to nature
It is no coincidence that brands associated with the outdoors / nature / organic and the environment are often represented by a website that heavily features the colour green, the colour widely associated with the great outdoors. Green also conveys a sense of environmental commitment. In addition to its ‘outdoor credentials’ it has been suggested that green is also a colour linked to improved creativity and can also be effectively used for a call to action – especially if it is used in isolation.
Warm orange is believed to be a ‘fun’ colour and helps stimulate physical activity, competition and confidence, as a result is it frequently paired with sports teams and children’s products.
According to Forbes’ ‘The Effect of Colour on Sales of Commercial Products’, orange can also mean cheap. Think EasyJet and B&Q…
Back to black
If it is luxury, sophistication & class and power that you are trying to communicate, then according to the psychology of colour, black should be your colour of choice. The original pioneer of the little black dress, Chanel, has always adhered to its pared down black and white imagery to support its exclusive positioning, a tactic employed by numerous other luxury brands such as Lamborghini and Lexus. Purple can also be used to convey luxury – and wealth.
Power of red
Hot red portrays power, passion and action and is more likely to be used as an accent colour to draw attention to critical elements of the website design. Underpinning the power credentials of red, one of the most iconic brands in the world – Coca Cola – features red heavily on its website presence in keeping with the core logo.
Web designers love the colour white for many reasons but most significantly because it is user friendly. As a colour it symbolises purity, innocence and perfection and represents new beginnings. Aside from the practical functionality of white, what web designer wouldn’t want their work associated with perfection!