When it comes to developing a successful website, it takes more than just slapping some images onto a colored background. In reality, a good design has more to do with website color psychology than what you might think.
In fact, as many as 40% of visitors may not return if they don’t like the appearance of a site. So, what can you do to improve conversions?
Understanding Website Color Psychology
Ever wonder why certain colors are used for graphics and logos? A very large portion of them are developed with psychological connections in mind. Graphic designers learn this in college, but what if you don’t have the money or the time to invest in these courses?
Let me try to break it down for you a bit.
The Psychology of Color
Various scientific studies demonstrate how certain colors humans see impact emotional, and sometimes physical, states. While more research is required to pinpoint exactly what causes these situations, the results are quite promising.
Psychology itself is arguably a complicated field to master. After all, what affects one person may not affect the rest in the same way. For example, some will view the color red as one of passion while others will attribute it more to anger.
In many ways, it takes a great deal of strategy to come up with the best color combination for websites. Many factors will come into play that are directly related to both your target consumer and the goods you offer.
The trick is finding a combination that works best for your organization.
It’s quite possible that you’ll change your color scheme often as some shades seem to increase sales more than others.
Understanding Your Target Audience
The first thing you need to establish is your target audience. Who is it you’re trying to engage on your website? This information will undoubtedly shape overall design of your site from colors to fonts. You want to make the content interesting to those you want to convert.
Most businesses have a pretty good idea about their target market. For instance, beauty and skin care organizations like L’ORÉAL don’t often target men. This particular company’s target audience is women in general.
If you’re unsure about who your target audience is, using tools like Google Analytics can be quite helpful. In the Demographics section, you can break down who visits your site.
According to the screenshot above, you can see this particular site attracts more females as well as those between the ages of 18 and 24. You can then drill deeper into the data if you want more precise numbers, but you get my point.
The data you get from demographics gives you a starting point for what designs may be the most appealing. Just remember that you are not going to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. However, the right design will engage those who are more likely to buy your products or services.
Once you have an idea regarding your target visitor, you can start to build a strategy for color schemes.
Know Your Products and Services
The audience isn’t the only contributing factor when it comes to using the best color combination for websites. The products and/or services you provide will also play a role. For instance, many gardening and lawn care websites will use shades of green which is a symbolic color of nature.
Take a look at most pizza boxes. How many can you think of that use red within the design at some point? Whether it’s the font or the logo itself, red is used in food products to entice the appetite. Which is good for food products.
Another excellent example of matching products to colors is that of organic items. Most organic imagery will have some form of green within it. This is because green is associated with nature, as is organic materials.
But what if you offer something that doesn’t really have a representative color? For instance, what colors would you use if you sold computer hardware? If you’re unsure what colors to use for products or services, it’s perhaps better to focus on emotional connections.
Basic Colors that Influence People
While I could spend hours going into the fine-tuning of each color shade, I’m just going to show you the basics. The following colors are used to inspire and evoke certain responses from individuals. You may want to consider which is better for your color psychology marketing.
A good place to start may be to take a look at current design trends on the Internet. Some of these may begin to point you in the right direction regarding what consumers are looking for.
While both sexes have an affinity for blue over most other colors, it appears men hold it as a particular favorite. It’s often a color associated with peace, tranquility and reliability. From a marketing standpoint, it’s often the color preferred by brands to promote trust.
Blue represents serenity and relaxation. It’s used quite a bit in the corporate world primarily because it is non-invasive and “cool.” After all, happy people are more productive. From a marketing point of view, happy people are also more likely to spend money.
I mentioned how many outdoors-minded websites and companies use the color green to promote nature. It’s also associated with health, power and harmony. Because it’s used to encourage decisiveness in the brain, it’s often the color of choice for purchase buttons and call to actions on a website.
The most notable use of green in the business world is to denote wealth. This is why many websites will use shades of green to symbolize money. Like blue, this color is also associated with tranquility. In fact, it’s often used in color therapy to treat depression.
Yellow is a color associated with optimism and creativity. It also denotes caution and anxiety, which is why most caution signs are yellow by design. It’s believed by some that yellow can be used to draw impulse shoppers.
If you want to get someone’s attention, yellow is one of those colors that stands out. It’s used to grab the attention of those nearby. Yellow is a “cheery” color that resonates within many and inspires people to act.
Many people have a similar reaction to orange as they do yellow. It’s a color that demonstrates warmth and caution while inspiring excitement and enthusiasm. Orange has also been found to be effective for impulse shoppers and within confident brands.
Orange is sometimes used in call to action buttons. This is because it inspires confidence and a friendly atmosphere. While it’s not as effective to grab people’s attention like yellow, it still has potential to engage visitors as a warm and cautionary color.
Red has a variety of uses depending on the purpose of the company. It creates a sense of urgency, which is why stop lights are red in most countries. Red also promotes appetite as well as increases the blood pressure and heart rate. This may account for why dating sites often use shades of red in their designs.
Sales advertisements, clearance isles and website “Buy” buttons are often red. This is because it instills the buyer with a sense that they need to act now. While buying a product or service may not be an actual emergency, the buyer feels that it is.
Often symbolic of intelligence and authority, black is one of those colors that almost everyone uses. However, many people will simply use it because it can mesh with every color quite well. Not to mention it’s easier to read black text on a powder blue background.
Black is a good solid color to use in a variety of situations. However, it can be quite overwhelming if used too much. It should be more of a highlight element rather than a solid part of the design. How many large online companies can you name that use black as a primary design component of the website?
Although white is technically the absence of color, it’s often viewed as an element in its own right. It’s symbolic for purity, protection and hope. White is also connected to spirituality in many instances.
One example of using white in abundance is that of Apple, Inc. The company not only uses the purity of white in website design but also in the products that are sold to the public. It’s not clear whether Apple is promoting spirituality through “i” products, but the company seems to embrace a lot of the psychology surrounding the use of white.
The Impact of Bright Colors
A common use of a color palette is to incorporate brighter shades within web design. For instance, brighter colors of yellow, green and blue are often associated with energy and stimulation.
Many people find bright colors to be more attractive and positive. If you’re trying to market a product, being positive is a key component. This is why many organizations will use brighter yellows to market goods or highlight certain areas of the website.
Yellow isn’t the only color that is effective for adding energy and a positive atmosphere to a design, though. Essentially any color can have a brighter shade to it while delivering a similar experience.
For instance, it’s easier to be “excited” over a design that uses a lighter pale green than one that is a deep forest shade.
For the most part, people would see the lighter color on the left and feel more uplifted and inspired. The darker shade on the right appears more authoritative and less inspirational for excitement and energy.
Putting It All Together
A lot of people will simply choose specific colors because of personal preference. However, good color psychology marketing takes emotional connections into account. This means the project has a better chance to resonate within the target consumer and result in boosting conversion rates.
Let’s break down Best Buy’s color scheme, for example. The company uses blue, yellow and black in design of the site and the logo. According to the list above, the focus of the color scheme is to attract impulse buyers to a trustworthy company.
Black could simply be used because it’s a default color of text or the company is promoting authority. Either way, it works well together.
Walmart’s color scheme is similar, and many people would attest to impulse shopping once they step in through the front doors of the business. This effect is then carried into the cyber world as the company continues to attract those who are quick to spend money.
Would Walmart have the same impact on shoppers if the colors were blue and green? Perhaps not. People may even have a completely different attitude towards the company.
One afterthought you may want to consider is how color schemes may influence the creation of viral content. While there is no actual study available that focuses on viral posts on social media and a color scheme, it stands to reason there may be a correlation between the two.
Avoid Overwhelming the Senses
One of the most important factors to keep in mind is not overdoing it when it comes to a particular color. It is possible to add too much to the point where the senses are overwhelmed by activity. This is true whether you’re building a website or designing a logo.
Often the simplest additions are the most effective. For example, a lot of people will use a standard white background and only offer colors to accentuate category lists or highlight website areas.
You also want to be careful about using an over-abundance of color. Adding the entire spectrum of the rainbow on a webpage is often seen as poor design. A site that appears too active has a tendency to push visitors away.
Choose Good Backgrounds
Some of the best website background colors consist of nothing more than a pale solid color. It’s meant to be more of an afterthought rather than an interest. You want people to pay attention to your content, not the background.
You should try to avoid using images in your background unless they are incredibly opaque. Remember, you want to keep the eyes of the visitor on your content. Using an image you pulled directly from your phone as a background draws the eyes away from where you want them.
Keeping visitor attention focused is often why many will opt to use either plain white or very soft background colors.
Take Time to Design
While you can simply just throw up any random element you find onto your website, you want to take the time to explore what colors will accentuate your content. If you can tap into certain behaviors like the big brands do by simply choosing the right colors, isn’t it worth the effort to try?
If you use platforms like WordPress, changing a layout is as easy as clicking the mouse. You wouldn’t have to be confined to a design that is less than ideal. It’s a great platform especially since you can change many colors of the site in real-time by customizing themes.