Posted by Kristine Jacobson
Website design - choosing the right colors

Choosing the right colors for your website is essential to portraying your message or product. Each person has his or her favorite colors, but, the way those colors are interpreted can vary from culture to culture.

When choosing colors, ask yourself these questions:
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are you selling?
  • What are the objectives of your site?

Certain colors are easier on the eyes, and many have emotional or cultural significance that is, they have a meaning to the people in your area. These associations will color the way people see your brand and could affect whether they choose to do business with you or not.

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Use the Entire Color Spectrum

Shifting colors to another area of the spectrum can completely change the impact they have on your viewing audience. For instance if you used gold instead of yellow, the color indicates value.

The demographics of your site may also have a large impact on how your colors are perceived. Teens and young people enjoy more saturated colors while adults may find them offensive. Also, strong contrasts in color may drive your visitors away. New color trends can be overused and go out of style as quickly as they appear. Your background and text choices can heavily affect readability and turn away older visitors or those with reading impairments.

The meaning of a color will also drive traffic to or from your website. Too much of one color could act as a warning sign leading potential buyers/clients to the wrong conclusion.

Here is a list of colors and their potential meanings and uses:
  • Red brings text and images to the foreground. Use it as an accent color to stimulate people to make quick decisions; it is a perfect color for 'Buy Now' or 'Click Here' buttons on Internet banners and websites. Red is widely used to indicate danger (high voltage signs, traffic lights).
    This color is also commonly associated with energy, so you can use it when promoting energy drinks, games, cars, items related to sports and high physical activity.
  • Orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. It is highly accepted among young people. As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite. Orange is the color of fall and harvest. In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.
    Orange has very high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight the most important elements of your design. Orange is very effective for promoting food products and toys.
  • Yellow evokes pleasant, cheerful feelings. You can choose yellow to promote children's products and items related to leisure. Yellow is very effective for attracting attention, so use it to highlight the most important elements of your design.
    Yellow is an unstable and spontaneous color, so avoid using yellow if you want to suggest stability and safety. Light yellow tends to disappear into white, so it usually needs a dark color to highlight it. Shades of yellow are visually unappealing because they become dull.
  • Green is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision. Green suggests stability and endurance. Sometimes green denotes lack of experience. In heraldry, green indicates growth and hope. Green, as opposed to red, means safety; it is the color of free passage in road traffic.
    Use green to indicate safety when advertising drugs and medical products. Green is directly related to nature, so you can use it to promote 'green' products. Dull, darker green is commonly associated with money, the financial world, banking, and Wall Street.
  • Blue is used to promote products and services related to cleanliness, air and sky, water and sea. As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Use blue to suggest precision when promoting high-tech products.
    Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite. When used together with warm colors like yellow or red, blue can create high-impact, vibrant designs
  • White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.
    In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it's the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.
  • Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. When designing for a gallery of art or photography, you can use a black or gray background to make the other colors stand out.
    Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange other very powerful colors black gives a very aggressive color scheme.

Your customers will notice your website's colors before they notice any other element, including what you write or what you are selling. This means that your color palette deserves attention both from you and perhaps a professional branding or logo design consultant. Don't be afraid to have someone who works professionally with color help you in using your website to obtain maximum success.

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Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience with notable corporate leaders as well as emerging market contenders. She offers expert marketing strategy with a touch of creative flair. Her extensive knowledge of strategic marketing, marketing plan execution, and branding illuminate the big picture without losing sight of the details.