Websites can say whatever it is they need to say about missions, goals, advocacies, and what-have-yous. At the end of the day, however, the thing that will matter the most would be conversions.
Conversions would be visitors filling out a contact form, subscribing to a newsfeed, or actual sales of a website’s product or service, which is regarded by many as the ultimate conversion. Along with traffic and ranking in the search engine results pages or SERPs, a website’s conversion rate is a measure of its success.
As with traffic and rank, many factors and web design practices affect conversion rates. Believe it or not, the use of color in web design is one of those factors.
Much of the conversation regarding the impact of the use of color in web design revolves around the theories set forth by color psychology. A sub-field of behavioral psychology, color psychology puts a spotlight on the way colors affect human behavior.
The general idea is that there are associations between specific colors and human emotions, attitudes, and values. For web designers and marketers, those associations can come in handy in servicing their respective social, political, or entrepreneurial agenda.
Here are some of the colors that color psychology associates with human emotions, attitudes, and values.
Red has always been associated with love, passion, jealousy, rage, and even violence, for obvious reasons. It’s also great for grabbing attention and creating a sense of urgency, which are facts marketers and web designers well enough to use in their work.
Look at any ad or billboard by a company holding a sale with colossal price slashes, and you’ll notice that they tend to be red. If you’re looking at one such sign—online or otherwise—you’re bound to feel some excitement, especially when the store holding the sale sells some of your favorite things.
Blue is the coolest color for most people. It’s so cool, in fact, that it’s said to be capable of lowering the blood pressure and heart rates of people who set eyes on the color.
Blue also happens to be associated with stability, intelligence, trust, reliability, and security, and that’s why a lot of businesses love using the color in their logos, ads, and websites. Facebook and Twitter are two of the best-known companies that use blue in just about anything.
Never mind that scientists do not consider black a color. For artists like web designers, black is a color that can be used in their work for a variety of purposes. Sure, black may be generally regarded as all about doom, gloom, and death. On the other hand, black can also be incredibly elegant. Black brings with it a sophistication that makes it perfect for magazine ads that aim to draw people in through glamor and beauty. That extends to websites as well.
Few colors are as easy on the eyes as green. Our brain finds processing green easy. It is, after all, the color one sees the most in the natural world, which is likely the reason it’s the color that’s most closely associated with the environment. Websites that advocate conservation, sustainability, and other environment-related issues are typically green.
Green is also associated with decisiveness, renewal, and growth.
Just like its polar opposite black, white isn’t considered a color by some quarters, but it’s in wide use in design just the same. As for its associations, white is most closely connected to innocence, purity, and cleanliness. The healthcare industry is perhaps one of the most frequent users of white, for obvious reasons. White is clean and hygienic, and that’s why most nurses, doctors, and other workers in the medical world use it for their uniforms and the like.
Being the color of sunshine, yellow is naturally the warmest color there is. And just like the sun’s rays, the color yellow has the ability to bring out the cheerfulness in everyone. Some people even claim to feel younger at the sight of anything yellow. A sense of optimism is also attached to the color.
Yellow can be overwhelming when there’s too much of it, though.
Combine yellow and red, and you get orange. Accordingly, orange also carries the behavioral associations of both colors. It’s great for drawing attention, creating a sense of urgency, and triggering cheerfulness and warmth in people. It actually rivals red in being the most frequently used color for calls-to-action or CTAs, which need all the attention that they can get.
Choosing the right web design colors
Color psychology may be a sub-field of a legitimate branch of science, but the associations they make between colors and human behavior are by no means beyond reproach. For all the color associations it has established, color psychology does not really factor in the fact that there is no one way individuals respond to colors. We all see and react to colors in varying ways. More often than not, our reaction to colors is often shaped by our past experiences and personal biases.
Still, the associations color psychology have made are actually consistent with how people, in general, perceive and respond to colors. The fact that they strike closer to home is what makes these associations important for designers—web and otherwise—to understand and use them in their work to get specific reactions from their audience. For web designers, a conversion would be one of those desired reactions.
Knowing how your target market generally responds to colors is one of the objectives every web designer must line up. Sure, which color to use for your projects is entirely up to you, the web designer, but it wouldn’t be wise to just pick a color on a whim. Do some research and factor in age, gender, culture when picking the right color for your web design.
Children, for example, tend to respond well to yellow and other bright or vibrant colors. Would you like your website to appeal to women? Try blue and green. Men, on the other hand, typically prefer blue and black.
Some A/B testing may also serve you well, as it would allow you to find out which color combinations and placements would help get your site the leads and conversions it needs.