Your choice of colours plays an important role when people visit your website. Visitors may not consciously think about a website’s colours, but it’s a factor that always affects their reaction. Your choice of colours can influence engagement and sales. Let’s look at some of the main considerations that inform your colour choices.
Understanding the Psychology of Colour
Corporate psychologists, neuroscientists, and others who research such issues have accumulated quite a bit of research on the psychology of colour. Knowing the effects of different colours on people is helpful when choosing colour schemes for offices, schools, hospitals, and homes. While much of this research applies to live workplaces, the same principles are relevant to websites.
Red, for example, is a high-energy colour that’s effective for getting people’s attention. Many big brands that appeal to diverse audiences, such as McDonald’s use it in their logos. Blue has a more relaxing effect and suggests trust and stability, a good choice for insurance or water filters. White (which is actually the absence of colour) projects neutrality, purity, and simplicity. Many ads for hospitals and medical products contain lots of white space. Green is often associated with nature, which is why it’s featured in many health-conscious brands such as Whole Foods.
While it’s helpful to understand the typical effects of colours, you also have to realise that there’s no simple formula you can use to get predictable results. For one thing, you wouldn’t want to create a website where a single colour is overly dominant. You have to consider all elements of your pages, including primary colours, background, fonts, images, and icons.
Colour and Your Brand
When choosing colours for your website, you have to understand that colour is crucial for branding. People are largely visual creatures and colour is one of the first things they notice, whether looking at a storefront sign or a website.
Pay particular attention to the colours you use in your logo, as this is your brand’s signature. The same goes for the fonts and colours you use when listing your business name on your website. According to Kissmetrics, colours increase brand recognition by 80%. When selecting the colours for your logo and website, keep the following guidelines in mind.
- Consider the primary emotion you people to feel when they come to your website? Excitement? Trust? This depends on your product and audience. A company selling cutting-edge fashions has very different goals than one selling life insurance.
- Who is your audience? There’s evidence that people’s colour preferences vary according to age, gender, and culture. For example, while both men and women tend to like blue, women tend to like purple more than men. As people age, their colour preference tends to move from warmer colours (e.g. red and yellow) to cooler ones such as blue, gray and brown.
- Do the colours on your site harmonise? It’s important to choose colours that are complementary. If your font colour and background colour are too similar, the text will be hard to read. Your goal is to create an appealing colour scheme or palette. The 60-30-10 rule used by designers can help you achieve an attractive balance. Approximately 60% of the page should be of your primary colour, 30% a secondary colour, and 10% other colours (for websites, this will be elements such as buttons or images).
- Avoid using too many colours -or too few. There’s no precise formula for the right number of colours, but you can use some guidelines. If your website has too many colours it will have a dated and amateurish look. Too few can make it boring. For most websites, it’s best to limit your primary colours to three.
Understand the Importance of Colour
The colours on your website have a real impact on engagement. They can subtly affect how visitors feel when they land on your pages. At the same time, keep in mind that colour psychology is a complex and nuanced field. If you’re not sure about a certain colour, you can always do experiments. You might split-test an ad using different colour schemes. It can also help to ask people you trust about how your page, logo, or entire website appears to them.
It’s easy enough to change colours if you notice that you’re not getting the results you want. On the other hand, you don’t want to be constantly changing your site as that undermines your branding efforts. Also realize that colour, as important as it is, is only one factor of many that influence your website’s appearance. Fonts, layout, images, and words also matter a great deal.
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