A lot of people might think that only layout or content are what matters when it comes to an effective website, but what about the colours you choose for it?

Colour has an important effect on our attitudes and emotions. When we see a colour, our eyes communicate with the hypothalamus (a region in the brain that produces most of our essential hormones). The hypothalamus sends a signal which eventually reaches the thyroid gland, which releases hormones which affects our mood, emotions and behaviour (that’s the science bit).

But how does the psychology of colour play a part in marketing and sales? Apparently 90% of all product assessments are based on colour (according to Quicksprout) and it’s been found that colour is 85% of the reason that you purchase a specific product. So the statistics prove that the colour of your website affects sales figures. Use the right colours, and it’ll play a big part in your success.

It’s important for web designers and business owners to consider colour when it comes to the various aspects of website design, such as:

  • Headlines
  • Pop-ups
  • Borders
  • Background hues
  • Buttons
  • Web banners

 

The Psychology Of Colour

Colour psychology is the science of how colour affects human behaviour. It’s a branch of behavioural psychology, and is widely accepted even though there is a lack of scientific evidence in this field. However, in a journal article named “The Impact of Colour On Marketing” it takes just 90 seconds to form an opinion about a product. And between 60% to 90% of that assessment is determined by the colour of the product alone. That’s persuasive.

Each colour has been found to have a particular psychological effect. So before you make a decision about which colours to use on your website and in your branding, make sure you’ve thought about the psychological impact of the colours you’re planning on using.

Red – energetic, bold, sexy, danger

Nothing grabs attention like red. Red is stimulating, energetic and exciting. It’s associated with passion, power and even anger (seeing red). It suggests strength and boldness and can also signify danger. Red is a great colour to use to make your call to action buttons stand out and get noticed (it’s considered the most effective colour for CTAs).

Orange – creative, friendly, youthful

Orange is seen as vibrant, friendly and energetic and is ideal for designs that need movement and energy. It’s less overwhelming that red, but still attention-grabbing. It’s fun, active and inspires confidence, which is why it’s used to advertise children’s products and sports teams. Amazon uses orange for their limited time offer banners, which suggests urgency, making the message more noticeable and actionable.

Yellow – sunny, inventive, optimism, warning

Yellow is a bit of a contradiction, as it’s used for warnings but also is seen as happy and optimistic. Brands that use yellow want to be seen as fun, friendly and playful. It’s said to activate the anxiety centre of the brain, so it might be best in small doses (maybe as a call to action button). It’s often used for kids clothing sites and toys, like orange.

Green – organic, natural, growth, instructional

Green is the colour of the outdoors and relates to all things organic and natural. It’s also said to inspire creativity. Any businesses that are associated with nature, the environment, the outdoors or organic products should consider using green as the predominant colour of their site. It’s also a good colour for a call to action button. Lighter shades are more associated with spring and growth, darker shades with money (it suggests affluence, growth and stability).

Blue – trustworthy, tranquil, professional, medical

Wonder why Facebook and Paypal choose blue for the colour of sites? Blue is the colour of trust and transparency. It also brings to mind calmness and serenity. Blue is also used by many banks, like Capital One. Research shows that it should be avoided by food companies.

Purple – spiritual, wise, evocative

Purple is seen as sophisticated and elegant, and is ideal for a website that features niche, luxury products. It’s often used by cosmetics brand Loreal in their campaigns, as it’s favoured by women. It’s often associated with royalty or religion, denoting class and elegance.

Black – credible, powerful, luxury, elegance

The darker the tone, the more luxurious the colour. Which is why high-end clothing, watch and car companies use black (think Chanel handbags). It’s the colour of a timeless classic, and communicates glamour, exclusivity and sophistication. It’s often used to create contrast with other colours on a website.

White – simple, clean, pure

Don’t forget about white! White space on your website is a design feature, suggesting minimalism, clarity and simplicity (think of the Google homepage). White is primarily used as a background colour. A predominantly white background suggests freedom and spaciousness.

Pink – fun, flirty, feminine

It’s generally acknowledged that women’s favourite colour is pink. It’s not. Only a small percentage of women say pink is their favourite colour, and there’s been a backlash against it recently. Often pink suggests femininity in colour psychology. This doesn’t mean that pink is appealing to all women! If you’re determined to use pink, maybe add it to a colour palette alongside blue, purple, and green — and you may improve the appeal of your website to female visitors.

Brown – rural, historical, steady

Although not usually considered immediately by lots of businesses, brown suggests relaxation and calm, and is often used for health and wellness websites (usually lighter shades, not very dark brown). Brown can be dull but reassuring, wholesome and reliable. If you want to be seen as experienced and reassuring, then consider brown.

Whatever colours you decide to use on your website, here are some final tips:

  • Test several colours – try different coloured backgrounds and call to action buttons. Do market research on what works best
  • Avoid colour overload – remember to use white
  • Get involved in choosing your site colours – don’t just leave the decisions up to your web designer. Try to think of what will appeal to your ideal clients, not just what you like. Bear in mind which colours will help you convert web traffic into sales.

 

Image by Tim Mossholder

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