The psychology of colour is one of those topics which, when you think about it, informs a plethora of decisions across the world of design, branding, marketing, and more.
Colours inspire certain emotions and can have a major impact on the way we experience certain things and situations - be they dining spaces, shops, products, or online experiences. In branding, the right colours can connect your brand to specific industry trends and markets effortlessly; meanwhile, in physical spaces the colours on show and used throughout the decoration can trigger very different feelings in that room or space.
Website design takes all of this and throws it into a giant mixer, creating a blend of emotional responses, actions, and assumptions. To put this into context, it has been shown that users take just 90 seconds or less to determine whether or not they like a product and/or brand, and that colour plays a dominant role in underpinning that decision. But why?
In this blog post, we’re taking a deep dive into the psychology of colour from an online perspective, with advice on how to select the best colours for your branding and online presence.
Why is colour important?
It all comes down to how the colour scheme of your website makes people feel when they are browsing and using your website. With colour playing such an integral role in the emotional response of users, it follows that in order for you to select the right colours for your site, you need to first understand what you want users to think and feel when they browse your website.
For example, a luxury spa website might want users to feel relaxed and serene, while a fast food brand may want users to feel hungry and inspired to take quick action.
And that’s where colour psychology comes in. Now, this is not new territory - in fact, our psychological response to specific colours has been the topic of much study, research, and discussion over the years. There’s a reason why so many fast food companies have red branding, and why health foods and environmental companies often use green in all their marketing - and we’re about to tell you why.
Is the same really true of web design?
It doesn’t matter whether you use one colour or multiple colours across your website - the aim should always be to compliment the experience that you want users and customers to have whenever they interact with your brand.
The way that colour underpins our assumptions and associations about certain brands and products remains the same whether it’s online or in person - with web designers needing to pay particular attention to things like the colour of CTA buttons, statements, backgrounds, and more. The wrong colour can render a CTA or clickable button completely useless, while the right background colour can shroud an entire site in authenticity and quality.
Here are just some of the psychological profiles linked to specific colours in web design - and how to know whether or not to use them.
The psychology of different colours
The colour of passion, intense romance and anger. Red is used by brands who want to inspire a sense of urgency and to draw attention to specific areas of the site or recommended actions. Because of this, red is often used in CTA and clickable buttons across a website.
Brands who use green are often trying to connect their products or mission to environmental causes or to the great outdoors. Be wary of ‘greenwashing’ which is when the overuse of green becomes misleading as brands try to make their products seem more environmentally friendly than they are - however, the assumption that users have when they see green in web design remains steeped in nature.
A positive, summery colour which lends itself to campaigns where you want people to feel energetic and inspired. Yellow is also quite a creative colour, connected with youth, the sunshine, and the idea of new beginnings.
The difficulty that branding experts find with white is that it is both relaxing and serene, and also incredibly clinical. White space has become a major trend in web design as designers seek to find ways of balancing content against white spaces to allow for users to digest the content available - however, it’s important not to let the white become too clinical and impersonal.
Often used by corporate companies and big industry brands, blue is a colour that many of us associate with reliability and dependable business. It is both a calm and strong colour and denotes the kind of authenticity which inspires almost instant trust. However, too much blue can feel cold and impersonal, so it is one to use sparingly.
How to use colour effectively in your web design
If you are building a website for an existing brand, then it’s important for your web design to be grounded in your branding colours. This ensures a level of cohesiveness across all your online touch points and creates the recognition which lets users follow you across different platforms - drawn towards a sense of dependability and certainty that your brand is reliable.
Beyond that, selecting the right colours for your web design means understanding users’ motivations and what you want them to do and feel when they land on your website. From driving them towards certain actions to empowering them to react in certain ways, the more you can do to control their experience the higher your conversion rates will be.
Get in touch with the Social Loop team for more advice on areas like this, and to speak with our top designers and marketers about how to make the most of your website.