When Yves Saint Laurent said that Marrakech taught him color he meant that he had discovered the strength of its psychological effect. Colors create certain feelings, set a mood, and change lives. They also have a similarly strong impact on website visitors. Branding and design use color to form the unconscious attitude of the target audience to a company, its products, or services, influence purchase decisions, and sometimes make visitors click certain buttons.
Is color really that important?
Color doesn’t define the level of conversion. It doesn’t sell directly neither can it literally find you new customers. However, it helps to create the necessary impression and turn a random visitor into a regular customer:
- 93 % of users make a purchase decision based on the look of a product and website. 70% won’t buy if they don’t like the color. The success of a brand is 80% dependent on the properly selected color scheme of its web resource.
- You have just 8 seconds to capture the user’s attention, so only a properly chosen color can help you to win the modern marketing battle.
- Certain colors can have a drastically negative effect on your online sales. We are talking about gray, brown, and orange. Gray is unofficially considered to be an interface color. It diverts users from the completion of a target action. Brown is unpleasant for most people. Orange is more effective to highlight buttons rather than create the overall impression of a brand and its website. Again, it is very irritating to users (even more than red).
There is the Plutchik’s color wheel that should help designers to select the right color combinations. However, it doesn’t fully represent the possibilities of the impact colors have. Additionally, you shouldn’t take any color scheme as the ultimate truth while choosing the optimum design for your website. As a study, color psychology is only emerging. Hence, if you adhere to the general results of studies, you may never find the keys to the heart of your target audience. Not all orange buttons are as effective as some reports say. And red isn’t always the symbol of aggression, blood, and violence.
Website tasks and the message of a brand
With color, you can impact the decisions of your customers. The best option for a particular psychological effect is defined through testing and takes into account the tasks of a website and the type of a target audience.
What are you going to promote? The brand colors of Coca-Cola are very unlikely to generate high conversion and become recognizable among the customers of a bank, medical center, or pharmaceutical company.
Red is a great option for the food industry, service sector, entertainment, technology, transport, and agriculture. The brands that increased sales using this color: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Avis, Colgate, Lay’s, Nike, Virgin Group, Red Bull, Time, KFC.
Light blue suits almost all fields except for those related to food, transport, and clothing. It’s absolutely universal (even color blind can see it) but not quite appropriate for websites dedicated to household products and services. The brands that increased sales using this color: Oral-B, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ford, PayPal.
Green is perfect for financial, energy, and food sectors. It effectively sells household appliances and services. Surprisingly, green doesn’t work for health care, transport, logistics, and foodservice. The brands that increased sales using this color: Subway, Whole Foods, Animal Planet.
Orange is the color of healthcare, foodservice, transport, logistics, and technology. Even if it is worth using in design, in most cases, it’s all about highlighting interface elements. Orange doesn’t go well with most colors, and if you choose a wrong color pair, it will look extremely irritating. The brands that increased sales using this color: Fanta, Harley-Davidson, Hooters.
Black is a very strong, powerful, and dominating color. It easily steals the show, so you should use it in design with the same caution as red, orange or gold. Have you ever noticed that leading fashion houses, such as Versace, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent use a lot of black in their branding? Well, this color is associated with high style, eternity, and everything that doesn’t become less fashionable with the passage of time. Yet not only such venerable brands that dictate the global trends in design and clothing can allow themselves to use lots of black on their websites. This is a perfect color for the clothing industry, technology, transport, and logistics. Note that it isn’t suitable for foodservice and healthcare. The brands that increased sales using this color: Chanel, Dior, Versace, Montblanc, and Jaguar.
White and silver symbolize perfection and purity. The black and white classic is a quite trite option for the design of clothing, technology, and transport websites. Nevertheless, such a website can exist without a redesign for many years and remain stylish, relevant, and appealing. The white color is universal and goes with almost any other color and shade. It is widely used to create color pairs. Nevertheless, we don’t recommend using pure white for foodservice promotion. The brands that increased sales using this color: Apple, Asus, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Honda.
Purple is a mysterious, powerful, and majestic guy. That’s why it is used in the branding of beauty websites. This color has the strongest associations with beauty and health. It isn’t really suitable for the energy and agriculture sectors neither is it good to promote clothing, cars, airplanes, household goods and services. The brands that increased sales using this color: Yahoo, Taco and Craigslist.
Yellow is the color of joy and action, intellect and self-perfection. Hertz, Shell, National Geographic…this is not an exhaustive list of renowned brands which have chosen yellow as their symbolic color. Yes, this color is optimum for the energy sector, food industry, and household. Nevertheless, there are exceptions. For instance, a car manufacturer, Ferrari, has a yellow dominated logo. The brands that increased sales using this color: Hertz, Shell, Pennzoil, DHL, Cat.
Who are the visitors of your website? Women, men, adults, or kids? Gender and age also have to be taken into account when choosing a website design.
For example, women like pastel shades of green, blue, and purple. Many of them also like pale pink and peach.
Men prefer black, green, and blue. They are also fine about white and silver. Men are more conservative and less loyal to bright, saturated colors. They don’t like purple, red, and brown.
Women, conversely, like both bright and delicate colors. You probably wouldn’t fascinate them by a website in gray, pale yellow, orange, and brown shades.
The younger your potential customers are, the higher the chances are that they will like a website in vibrant orange, yellow, red, and pink colors. The youth also adores green, white, and blue.
Consequently, the older your target audience is, the calmer colors you should choose. Adults perceive silver, green, blue, intense purple, and black as trustworthy and less aggressive. They like the classic combination of black and white, yet the youth is also okay with such an option. Well, it has become classic for a reason.
GENEROUS, STANDARD, LIMITED
What can your customers afford? Financial possibilities of the target audience also affect the perception or rejection of one or another color in every particular case. For example, generous and impulsive buyers like everything bright and eye-catching (red, blue, and even black). Average buyers feel related to pink and sky-blue shades, whereas people with scarce budgets and conservative views prefer blue-green mixed shades.
The niche and tasks of a website as well as the gender, age, and financial capabilities of a target audience are important, but not the only factors that must be considered when choosing the colors of a brand. An ideal solution is always born of experiments. Without them, you can only rely on the results of the general research.
Branding is about sending a message, a kind of implicit information, to your target audience by means on colors. What associations are provoked by blue? Think about most common products that use this color…Social media, blogs, buttons. Yes, blue means trust. The trust so huge that you are even not afraid to disclose a part of your life. Blue is associated with reliability, power, and home. Isn’t that a reason why we are practically living in social media? Every color has an impact on the subconscious, but how?
- Black. Elegant, elite, exquisite, eternal, strong. Martial arts masters have belts of different colors, but everyone knows only about black. It symbolizes an ultimate skill, infinite perfection that people should strive for. Your target audience will have similar associations when they see black. It’s powerful and elite. With black, you can easily stress the luxury status of your products. Yet don’t forget that black attracts a lot of attention and must be used carefully. It’s a great option to highlight important information.
- Red. Fiery, bloody, aggressive, juicy, life-affirming. This is the color of strong motivation effective for buttons and important notes. At the same time, it often repels with its brightness and hurts the eye. Red is more attention-getting than any other color, but it also symbolizes danger (Does everyone remember 3 colors of traffic lights?) It provokes a strong desire to live, fight, act and is tiring at the same time. Also, red literally stimulates appetite. Hence, it’s ideal for all websites related to food, technology, transport, logistics, and agriculture.
- Green. The color of nature, natural harmony, prosperity, and money. There is nothing as peaceful and alive as a green leaf. Green facilitates perception, calms, and relaxes. That’s why it is widely used in the design of financial, technological, and culinary web portals.
- Blue. This color is believed to be the most universal. It’s absolutely neutral in terms of perception and provokes the feelings of reliability and stability. Pure honesty, productivity, and professionalism are also about blue. It is very often used in the IT field and more rarely on websites related to transport, culinary, and clothing.
- Silver and white. Purity, clarity, transparency, perfection – this would probably be the thoughts of someone looking at this color combination. Apple had a good reason to choose it for its symbol. Apple’s products are more than just delicious and juicy. They are perfect. At least, this is exactly what the millions of Apple’s fans worldwide believe. This color is as universal as blue, green, and black. Color combinations with white almost always look great, yet pure white is not recommended for the banking and foodservice sectors.
- Purple. Strong and mysterious. This color is the symbol of power and splendor. It is widely used in the beauty industry, healthcare, and IT. This is the color of a king’s mantle, the synthesis of pink and blue. Purple looks as gorgeous as black, so it can easily be used for luxury products promotion.
- Orange. Cheerful, creative, unpredictable, but at the same time very aggressive (like red). Orange is believed to be one of the most irritating colors in a palette. It should be used very carefully. Also, note that finding a color pair to orange is a tough task. This color is effective for healthcare, the energy sector, and technology. In rest cases, it behaves very unpredictably.
- Yellow. The color of warmth, comfort, light, and joy. It causes positive emotions and fills people with energy. This is a great option for a food brand, event agency, or energy provider. However, in this case, the rule of traffic lights also works. Yellow is the sign of a warning and the symbol of the press with a very doubtful reputation.
Colors can form the philosophy and perception of a brand on the subconscious level.
Do you want to show that your products are solely for the chosen and affluent people? Use black.
Are you planning to highlight the perfection and uniqueness of a product or service? Take white and be like Apple.
Do you want to nudge people into a certain action or attract their attention? Red and orange will help you.
Do you bring beauty and royal majesty to this world? Purple is just for you.
Here is the secret of success: Don’t be afraid of experiments!
Recommendations, research, and palette schemes aren’t almighty.
The perfect color formula for a website and buttons
According to the results of the research, orange, red, and green are optimum choices for buttons. Nevertheless, the most winning combinations are green on a white background, white on green, white on red, and black on orange. Black is very effective in design since it attracts lots of user’s attention. Yellow, the color of the sun, helps to increase conversion. Additionally, it is recommended to refuse from green and blue for target buttons. These colors relax users and actually demotivate them.
As for the perfect color formula, you can use the principle of three components: 60% – an unsaturated main color, 30% – a secondary color, and 10% – the most intense color for target action buttons and CTA elements.
Colors can be selected with the help of the color wheel (which is difficult and takes a lot of time), the color chart, or using color blocks on Dribbble (a fast and more convenient option).
Don’t bet on complex color combinations, since they are rarely working. Three colors are more than enough. Take into account your niche and target audience, remember the results of the research, but always experiment. This will help you to find optimum brand colors, grow conversion, and increase user loyalty.