Colours have a unique connection to our moods and emotions. We both consciously and sub-consciously associate colours with certain things. The meanings that we associate with different colours are influenced a great deal by the cultural and societal groups we identify with, for example red can be associated with heat, danger, love and passion; however in Eastern culture red is seen as a lucky colour, symbolising good fortune and prosperity.
Research suggests that the colours you use on your website are very important. It's even estimated that around 62-90% of purchasing decisions are based on colours - you may have even found yourself drawn to a particular product due to the packaging. Due to this, more and more web designers have been looking into the psychology of colour, and it is being used extensively in all aspects of design.
In this guide, we will take a look into some commonly used colours and their meanings. As mentioned earlier colour association is largely influenced by culture, we'll be taking a look at the Western connotations; if your site is aimed at a different audience, it is worth bearing in mind that the colours may have different meanings.
Pink: signifies fun, romance, youth and femininity. It is considered to be playful and can be associated with 'bubble-gum sweetness'. It is great for sweet and cake sites. The fact that the colour is viewed as feminine and immature means it should be used with caution if you are looking to attract a mature or masculine audience.
Blue: considered trustworthy and makes us think about something safe, secure and dependent. It is often used by business and corporate sites as well as medical (such as the NHS) and monetary organisations. Blue is also a true colour, meaning that it stands out more to colour blind people; it's rumoured that the blue Facebook logo was chosen by Mark Zuckerberg (who is colour blind) as it is the clearest colour to him. Blue should be avoided if your site relates to food (as it actually suppresses the appetite).
Red: this is a very effective call to action colour - it is stimulating, exciting and also creates a sense and feeling of urgency (which is why it's commonly used during sale seasons). The colour is exciting and passionate and can be used to make people feel passion. However the intensity of the colour can make it a little overwhelming and it should be used as more of an accent colour.
Green: is a calm and peaceful colour, which is largely associated with nature and rejuvenation, it's great for eco-friendly products. Many environmental agencies take advantage of this association. Green is also considered to be a very balanced colour. However due to America's green dollars (probably the most universally recognised currency), there is an association with money, companies such as Groupon utilise green as they deal with money and saving money.
Yellow: is considered to signify a 'healthy mind' and happiness, largely due to its association with sunshine (think Mr. Happy and Little Miss Sunshine). It is energising and a great colour if your site is aimed at children as it grabs their attention. However yellow has been associated with causing anxiety, so it's a good idea to use it in small doses.
Purple: suggests royalty, elegance and sophistication - making it ideal for niche and luxury products. Cadbury's is a prime example of a company using the colour to symbolise luxury with its purple and gold packaging. The colour also has links with spirituality, mystery and magic.
Orange: attention grabbing, warm and vibrant. It's less intense than red and invites people into doing something without being as forceful as red. It is commonly used for calls to action - such as subscribe and buy buttons. It is worth bearing in mind that orange is largely associated with affordability and can be viewed as cheap.
Black: represents elegance, sophistication and power. Many luxury and high-end brands use black. It communicates glamour and exclusivity. Black is also very versatile and can be used with a number of colours.
White: signifies purity, innocence and peace. It is great for simplicity, cleanliness and idea creation. It also creates a sense of freedom, spaciousness and breathability. It is often used to create a sleek background. Apple utilises a lot of white to signify cleanliness and innovation.
Grey: seen as neutral and indifferent. The use of grey has actually steadily grown, the neutrality means that it works well as a background and with other colours. It's seen to be calm, stable, reliable and professional.
Favourite & Least Favourite Colours
Multiple surveys have confirmed that blue is the overall favourite colour (for both genders), so using blue on your site is less likely to turn people directly off from your site. Green and red are also common favourites. Least favourite colours tend to be brown, yellow and orange, so use some caution when using these colours.
In terms of gender there is not an awful lot of disparity in colour preference, except for the colour purple. Males are not particularly keen on the colour, yet females will often site it as one of their favourites. So it is worth bearing in mind that purple and pink (due to it's common perception of being feminine), are best reserved for sites targeted towards a female audience and are not good for enticing a predominantly male audience.
Colour is an extremely effective way of conveying your message and image, it can also help you to attract the right visitors to your site. Clever use of colour can also persuade visitors to react to your calls to action. Despite there being scepticism about the power of colour psychology, many big brands invest heavily in using colours in an attempt to present a particular image and to prompt customers to buy. Coincidentally the big brands may have even reinstated, or in some cases created the feelings and meanings we associate with these colours. It is also undeniable that we are drawn to colours and react to colours that we favour or associate with good feelings, and for the most part colours do tend to evoke similar emotional responses in people. Therefore it is a good idea to think about what emotional response you would like to provoke, and to pick your colours accordingly.
Freeola offers a choice of affordable website design services. So if you would like some help with the design of your site, check out our Web Design page.