Designing a website? Choose colors wisely…

When we’re designing a website, we often have to deal with the subjectivity of color; but there is more to color than meets the eye… so to speak! And be reassured that we do apply some science when considering the colors we suggest for your business.

Designing a website? Did you know that when color is used correctly, it can trigger a variety of emotions, moods and memories? Colors can turn a visitor off or on in the blink of an eye; that’s why you first need to know your audience. Then by understanding a little of the psychology of colors, you can develop a striking and effective brand positioning that will appeal to your audience, and help you in designing a website that is effective in communicating your message to your audience.

Market research helps of course, but most small businesses we deal with don’t have the budget for extensive research studies, so to a certain extent we have to use our experience…and also our gut! If used incorrectly, color can quickly confuse your audience and drive them away from your web site…and your business. Remember that you may not be the target audience for your business; so the fact that you ‘like’ pink should be immaterial if your business sells sports clothing to teenage boys!

How your audience interprets colors will depend on a number of factors; subjectivity is always present (blue is the world’s most popular color), but factors like nationality, age, sex, education and profession will alter perception. But in general, here in the US, the following are the most common emotions linked to colors:

  • Red – Excitement, strength, passion, speed, danger, confidence. If you want to draw attention to yourself and shout from the rafters, use red. The eye is drawn to red, as it’s the color of energy, action, movement and excitement. Don’t over use it though as it’s a very dominating color.
  • Blue – Intelligence, reassurance, confidence, trust, reliability, belonging, coolnessThe majority of people will say blue is their favorite color. A blue sky, blue seas – the color blue induces a calming reaction. But too much blue, especially use of a dark or heavy blue can seem cold and uncaring . Over the ages blue has become associated with trust and dependability, did you ever stop to think why so many police uniforms are blue? And notice the use of blue on our site to reassure you of our intelligence, confidence and reliability!
  • Green – Nature, freshness, peace, growth, abundance, generosity, fertility. The color of growth, nature, and here in the US… money. Green can be very calming color, especially the lighter or paler shades, as it is very pleasing to the senses. Dark green (British Racing Green in England) can be associated with masculinity and wealth! Hence the use of that famous old color on many old British sports cars!
  • Yellow – Warmth, sunshine, laughter, happiness, joy, optimism, good times, energy. Perhaps the political parties could do with a dose of yellow in their next campaigns. Yellow makes you feel optimistic because it causes the brain to release more serotonin. But be careful with yellow; it’s hard to read out of on screen and can be quickly overpowering if over-used; stick to the more golden hues.
  • Brown – Stability, home, richness, politeness, helpfulness, effectiveness. The second color used on our site, and the color of our logo. This earth color is also very popular. Brown is the color of Terra Firma, so hardly surprising that it represents stability and permanence, evoking feelings of reliability and calm.
  • Orange – Playfulness, warmth, vibrancy, ambition, summer, inviting. Orange is the loudest, most flamboyant color you can use! There is a reason many fast food places use reds, oranges and yellows to grab your attention. Good for accents and adding vibrancy, but use a lot of orange and you’re saying you’re loud and proud, but not at all calming or reassuring!
  • Purple – Royalty, wealth, spirituality, prosperity, sophistication, decadence. Worn by monarchs and religious leaders to convey wealth and superiority! However, due this usage it can be perceived by the masses to be associated with aloofness and being out of touch.
  • Pink – Softness, calm, romance, love, motherhood, femininity. Pink, but not hot pink, can be the most calming of all colors. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, probably the toughest sheriff in the US, makes his inmates wear pink; I would like to think that this is because studies show that color drains energy and calms aggression, but with our Sheriff Joe it could just be the embarrassment factor.
  • Black – Sophistication, elegance, seduction, mystery, intelligence, authority, power. Black is the ‘color’ of objects that don’t emit light. Naturally often associated with death and darkness, the bad guys always wear black, black is a powerful color that can be overwhelming. Used sparingly, it does add elegance and sophistication – think of that little black dress!
  • White   Purity, cleanliness, sterility, mild, innocence. White represents cleanliness and neutrality; it’s the building block upon which we build. The use of white on websites allows for clear, pure communication of your message.
  • Gray  Traditional, conservative, solid, practicality, authority. When I think of gray (or grey in England!) I think of John Major, our dull, boring and terribly practical Prime Minister in the 1990s. Too much gray will engender feelings of well…nothing. However, a touch of gray can be distinguished.
  • Gold Prestige, expense, wealth. Ask many an experienced printer and they will tell you that gold is a very difficult color to print well; the same can be said for screen delivery – gold can easily come across as dirty and lifeless, often the exact opposite of the effect you are trying to achieve. Gold can be aspirational, but it can also make your product or service seem out of reach.
  • Silver – Prestige, cold, scientific, sleek. On screen and in print, silver can often be mistaken for gray. With similar qualities to gold in terms of wealth and prestige, silver can also be seen as cold and untouchable.


If you’d like to apply some science to your business and the development of your new website, give us a call and we’ll discuss your needs.