Color Meanings: Choosing Your Website Color Scheme
When designing a website, web designers will often focus on the layout, content, and element positioning (like navigation, logo, and key messages) of the site. However, color is another equally important aspect of any website design project. A website color scheme is the first thing visitors will notice when viewing your website. Because different colors have different subconscious psychological effects, color meanings and color selection will play a huge part in determining how a website affects a visitor's thoughts and emotions. This will ultimately influence your conversion ratio (the percentage of visitors that complete the set goals for which the website was built) such as calling your business, filling out a form, purchasing a product, registering for an event, and so on.
When choosing your website color scheme, it is important to consider the psychological effects of color. The best website color scheme is not necessarily one that is the prettiest at first glance, but one that will appeal to your target demographic on all possible levels. For example, if you are targeting outdoor enthusiasts with an outdoor gear store, using a more natural color scheme may be appropriate. If your target market consists of only women, it is important to consider using a website color scheme that incorporates more feminine colors including pale pinks or soft lavenders. Finally, because color meanings can vary between cultures, these differences should be noted by companies targeting an international market.
Color Meanings & Color Psychology for Websites
The following are some basic color meanings that will help you to develop a better understanding of color psychology when selecting your website color scheme.
Red is the most powerful and emotionally intense color. It is commonly associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, aggressiveness, passion, desire, and love. Red is an ideal accent color as it is highly visible and brings text or images to the foreground. Red enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.
Due to its typical color meanings, red is often used in website color schemes for websites that:
Orange combines the energy of red with the cheerfulness of yellow. Orange is slightly less aggressive than red and, this color increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. Orange is highly accepted among young people as funny and bold, but is the least desirable color for women. This color is typically associated with sunshine, joy, and the tropics. According to color psychology, orange is also associated with healthy food and stimulates the appetite. Orange is an ideal website color scheme choice for websites that want to:
Yellow is the color of sunshine and its color meanings are typically associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Yellow is an attention getter and is typically the color that the eye will gravitate to first. However, because if overused it can result in a disturbing or fatiguing effect, yellow should be used sparingly in a website color scheme. Men tend perceive yellow to have a lighthearted or childish color meaning, so it is not recommended when selling prestigious or expensive products to men. Yellow also portrays a color meaning related to instability or spontaneity, so it should be avoided when attempting to display a feeling of stability, reliability, or safety. Because of the typical color meanings associated with yellow, it is best used as a website color scheme selection for websites that:
Green is the color of nature, more recently being used to promote environmentally friendly products. Color psychology tells us that green symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. In American culture, green is commonly associated with money portraying feelings of prosperity, wealth, and safety. Additionally, green is the most restful color to the human eye. Because of these many psychological associations with green, it is commonly used in website color schemes for websites that:
Blue is the most conservative choice for a website color scheme. Blue appeals to a wide range of demographics including people at a variety of ages. Common color meanings show that blue conveys feelings of trust, loyalty, stability, confidence, and intelligence. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body as it slows human metabolism and produces a relaxing or calming effect. According to color psychology dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability, therefore it is commonly a preferred color for corporate America. Blue is the color of water and sky and is appropriate for promoting services or products related to cleanliness, air and sky, or water and sea. Blue suppresses the appetite and should not be used when promoting food and cooking. When used in a website color scheme in combination with warm colors like yellow or red, blue can create vibrant, high-impact designs.
Because of its associated color meanings, blue is an ideal color for websites that:
Purple combines the perceived stability of blue and the energy associated with red. The color meaning of purple can be associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, magic, power, luxury, and ambition. Because this color is preferred over all other colors in nearly 75 percent of pre-adolescent children, bright purple is ideal when promoting children's products. Light purple is seen as feminine evoking feelings of sophistication, dignity, sensitivity, and romance.
White is a color commonly related to cleanliness, simplicity, innocence, and purity. The different color meanings of white can be included in a variety of website color schemes. For example, white is used:
The color meaning of black can range from portraying feelings of power, elegance, and formality to showing death, evil, or mystery. Black contrasts well with bright colors and can be combined in a website color scheme with red or orange to create an aggressive color palate. Black shows strength and authority making it ideal for formal or authoritative websites including on banking or legal company websites.