For most people, website design is all about how their site looks. You might think about whether your site looks professional, whether it is easy to read and whether it is different than your competitors.
But what about colors?
Most people don’t really think about the best colors for marketing. After all, colors don’t have that much of an influence – or do they?
There is actually a whole field dedicated to the psychology of color. Simply changing the color of something can have dramatic impacts.
If you can tap into the power of colors when you are still designing your site, then you really can come away with a lot of benefits.
So, how significant is color?
Research suggests that it takes people around 90 seconds to form an opinion on people or products. This initial opinion is based on color alone between 62% and 90% of the time (1).
In fact, color probably influences your decisions and perceptions, even though you aren’t really aware of it.
It’s really easy to assume that color isn’t significant because its impacts aren’t visible most of the time. However, if you use the right colors in the right ways, you can influence the way that people look at your site and even how much profit you make.
That’s worth looking at, isn’t it?
Picking colors takes time and it takes consideration. You have to consider your audience, your purpose and the overall image you want to convey.
First of all, gender.
Blue and green tend to be gender neutral colors and they work well for both genders. However, females tend to be drawn more strongly to purples and males to black. While black isn’t a color that females are drawn to, it is one that still works well with females when contrasted with another color.
However, females tend to be drawn more strongly to purples and males to black. While black isn’t a color that females are drawn to, it is one that still works well with females when contrasted with another color.
If you are targeting a female audience, you also want to avoid earthy tones and grays.
Most people assume that pink is the main female color, but this really isn’t the case.
In fact, very few adult females have pink as a favorite color.
Unless you use it very sparingly, pink on a website can have the opposite effect than you intend. Pink is a really common color for products or sites aimed at young girls. It’s also a fun color, not a serious one.
Pink is definitely not one of the best colors for marketing, unless you happen to be marketing to young girls. For women, purple is a much better approach.
In the same way, don’t use pink or purple for males.
That one is probably a bit more obvious.
The darker colors are most strongly associated with masculinity and they appeal to a male audience.
When you see a specific color, it influences what you think. This differs a little depending in the specific way the color is used. However, you need to be aware of these influences before you even consider what colors to use.
First of all, blue is a very universal color.
It is one that works well for both genders and it isn’t really masculine or feminine.
More than anything else, blue is corporate. It’s also a color that suggests trust, loyalty and security. This is probably why most banks use blue as their color as do major sites like PayPal and Facebook.
Another thing about blue is that most people either like it or are indifferent to it. This means that a blue website isn’t likely to annoy anyone.
The hue of the blue is also important. Banks and corporations tend to use dark blues, while less serious sites tend to use lighter shades of blue. A lighter shade suggests that the website is friendly, which is why many online businesses use a light blue as one of their main colors.
On a side note, blue is a color to avoid if you are promoting food.
There are very few blue foods. Evolutionarily, there is an association between blue and poison, so using blue isn’t going to promote food sales. Blue is also considered to be an appetite suppressant, which is why dieters often use blue plates.
Green is also gender neutral, although dark green is often considered masculine.
Green is also the color of nature, of growth and of money. It is also a calming color (like blue). Sites commonly use green to associate themselves with environmental goals or with the outdoors in general.
If your site is connected with nature in any way, using green as a color is a really good idea, even if it is just one of the colors that you choose.
Interestingly, green is also really effective for conversions. Because of this, some people use green for buttons and even for links. This can work very well, and in many cases it has been shown to increase conversions.
Yellow is a color to be careful with.
There are two main things that people associate yellow with. Firstly, yellow is a playful fun color, which is a positive association. However, bright yellow is also the color that we use for warning signs, so it can promote anxiety.
Most websites steer away from yellow, particularly as it can be overpowering if you use too much of it. Additionally, yellow text can often be difficult to read, especially if it is paired against a white background.
However, using yellow sparingly can be effective, particularly if you pick a less glaring shade, like light yellow or golden yellow.
On the other hand, orange is considered a particularly fun and energetic color. This makes it particularly effective on sites that want to convey a form of energy. Often, you see orange paired with black. This makes a particularly strong contrast and it can look really good.
However, you have to be careful not to overdo it, as too much orange and black is a bit like Halloween.
Orange is also a color that can make people hasty and can promote impulse purchases. This means that orange can work well as a call to action.
Like yellow, orange can be overwhelming, so you have to be careful where (and how) you use it. Generally speaking, orange works well as a way to highlight things, but not as the main color for a site.
There is also an association with orange and budget, so it’s not a good color to use on a high-quality product.
As I mentioned before, purple is a female color and it particularly common in beauty products. Some hues of purple are also associated with royalty, with wealth and with luxury.
One approach to promote elegance is using deep purple and black on a site. This is a combination that can work well with feminine products.
Lavender purple can evoke lighter feelings and is often reminiscent of spring.
People associate black with luxury. Black is one of the best colors for marketing an expensive product for this reason. Many of the big name brands do this, such as Lamborghini.
As such, black can be very important for differentiating your products from your competitor’s, particularly if you are trying to sell something for a higher price than the average.
Black is also a color that also suggests that a site is modern, particularly if black is used sparingly. This is why black and white designs often look so good and so clean.
Like other bright colors, black can get overbearing if you use too much of it. The Lamborghini site actually does this. While the first page looks fantastic, once you get further onto the site, the black starts to get a little hard on the eyes.
Red is a bright and exciting color that suggests emotion and is also associated with anger. Red is a fantastic way to grab attention as long as you don’t overuse the color.
Bright red is also a youthful color, which can be useful on sites that want to seem vibrant. In contrast, warmer reds give a sense of comfort and reassurance.
Pink is associated with youth, with femininity and with romance. Some sites do use this color to appeal to a female audience, although it is more effective when trying to appeal to girls than to women.
Don’t Forget White
Whether it is a color or not, white also has impacts on the way that people perceive a site.
In general, white is associated with simplicity, cleanliness as well as purity. For internet marketers, the use of white space plays a huge role in the design of a page.
Using white space well can help to give your site room to breathe and stop it seeming like everything is crammed together.
Color and Purpose
Matching your color choice with the purpose of your site is an important approach.
For example, sites selling children’s toys are most effective when they use bold, bright colors, like this one here:
This approach gives viewers a sense of fun and novelty when they enter the site, which is really what you want when you’re talking about toys.
In comparison, this is the color scheme of a different site:
This particular site is a charity, but the color scheme feels a little despondent and it really doesn’t relate that well to toys or to kids.
Colors and Conversion
Color is so significant because it plays a role in your conversions.
The psychological impacts of different colors really influence what people think of your website and your product, and this can sometimes be the difference between success and failure online.
The color you choose for specific design elements can also be important. For example, choosing bold colors, particularly primary colors, for conversion elements can be very effective. In fact, they are associated with higher conversion rates overall.
When designing a website, you have the option of how many main colors you use.
A monochromatic color scheme involves using just one color – although there are often various shades of this color. This can be very relaxing when done right. You commonly see this approach in blue or in green.
A double color scheme is very common and can work well. However, you have to choose your colors with care.
Most of the time, people will use complementary colors, which are the ones opposite one another on the color wheel. So, this means matches like, purple and yellow or green and red. This also means that you are pairing a warm and a cool color together.
Using complementary colors can look very nice, but colors do need to be chosen with care – as they need to suit your website and purpose.
Additionally, each color has its own psychological meaning, so you need to make sure both colors work well for what you want.
Finally, some sites use a triple color scheme where they choose three colors, normally ones that are evenly spaced across the color wheel.
All of these approaches can work and work well for a website, but you need to take the time to plan them and make sure they fit in with your site, your audience and your intent. Otherwise, it is very easy to end up with a good looking site that sends completely the wrong message.
Whatever you do with color, one of the most important things is consistency.
The colors you choose become part of the branding for your website. This means you have to use them over and over again in the same way throughout the website.
For example, you can’t have the link text in different colors on some pages than on others and you can’t suddenly change the color of your header. This might seem obvious, but it is surprisingly easy to forget.
Likewise, you want to plan specifically what shades of your color you are using and be consistent. Otherwise, you may end up with each element of your site being in a different shade, which makes it look like you are being lazy.
You may also need to plan ways of including your colors on every page of the website.
For example, if you are doing a monochromatic color scheme using green, you probably don’t want to leave your linking text as blue.
Colors are very important for your website, but you need to avoid overloading the site with color. Too much color can look bad and it can also be difficult to read.
Whatever you end up doing, make sure you test it completely. Ideally, you should mock-up your website in several different color schemes to figure out which one works the best overall and sends the right message.
The community at Wealthy Affiliate can also be another way to find out whether the color approach you take is working. In particular, you could ask members what they thought of your current color scheme, what it makes them feel and whether everything is readable.
Doing this could provide you with valuable feedback about whether your approaches are working and where you can improve.