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What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

Color is an important part of any company’s branding strategy. With the right colors, you encourage people to interact with your brand. The wrong colors can drive away potential customers.

The Psychology of Color

It is common knowledge that certain colors can evoke specific emotions. A light pink might remind you of your mother’s sweater, a royal purple may inspire you as your think about the colors of your alma mater. Even colors in logos can elicit an emotional response. Think I’m kidding? What are you feeling when I say “the golden arches”?

In 2010, researchers conducted a study of people’s interactions with a website. They used 23 different colors, changing nothing else on the sites. They concluded “the emotions associated with the feeling of ‘‘beauty’’ and which therefore procure a feeling of ‘‘wellbeing’’, played an important role in determining the length of the visit, the nature of the information that was consulted and the extent to which that information was retained.” In other words, when people liked the colors, they stayed on the website longer and looked for more information.

Web Design and Color Theory

Simply put, color theory is the study of how different colors interact with each other, the effects they have on our emotions, and how it guides our behavior. It involves understanding the principles of color theory. This includes knowing primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, complementary and analogous colors, abstractions, warm and cool colors, and harmony. It also include the consideration of the psychological effects of colors, their hues and tints, and warmth, on viewers. And this isn’t an exhaustive list!

In web design, color can be used to attract attention, express meaning, create desire, drive conversions, and even earn a customer’s loyalty. White space, contrast and a great color palette are essental elements of good web design. So important, you should be working with your web designer on color branding before you even think about how your homepage will look.

Using Color Effectively

Now you have developed your color palette. The next step is how you are going to use that palette to maximum effect.

I know you’re excited by your spiffy new colors, but don’t take a cue from Kandinsky. Choose only one color per element. Too many bright or confusing colors can overwhelm visitors and detract from or blend into the design of the site. You want to ensure all the elements work together harmoniously. This also helps visually guide viewers through your site.

Color and Accesibility

There are more than 350 million people in the world who are color blind. Approximately 8% of the population has a visual impairment. You need to ensure your color scheme is friendly for all viewers.

The colors on your website need to have contrast while maintaining harmony. This includes the color of the text on your page. The Web Content Accessibilty Guidelines provide standards and helpful guides.

Let’s Get Started!

The first step in getting started is a Branding Guide. I’ll work with you to develop your brand story, color palette, font selection, and so much more. But that’s a blog for another day. Drop me an email and let’s get started on your new (or refreshed) website!

The full text of the research paper “The impact of colour on Website appeal and users’ cognitive processes” by Nathalie Bonnardela, Annie Piolata, and Ludovic Le Bigot can be found online.


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