It’s not hard to find advice across the Internet about which colors might be optimal for the design of your website. You could spend months or even years studying color theory to understand how various shades and hues can influence human emotions.
This can be fascinating information, but if you don’t know how to implement colors for effective site design, the knowledge isn’t apt to be too useful. For example, if you understand that green tends to have a relaxing effect, you still don’t necessarily know how to incorporate green into your website.
Where do you put it, and what shade might be best for you to use? Do you make the background of the navigation menu dark green with light green links?
Is it preferable to make the checkout buttons green? Or should you use light-green borders for your images? How would this work for color-blind visitors?
How you choose to incorporate colors is just as important as which colors you employ. Before you commit to any particular color scheme, consider these three bases on which to select and implement colors on your website with solid intention.
- Colors influence your customers’ decision to buy
Color is one of the most powerful tools you can use to influence a sale. It’s not that one particular color will magically compel people to buy your product.
But at the heart of the matter, color guides emotions, and how people are likely to feel about your product will affect their decision to buy (or not). Studies like the one conducted by Jessica Ridgway, “revealed that blue logos invoked feelings of confidence, success and reliability, and green logos invoked perceptions of environmental friendliness, toughness, durability, masculinity and sustainability.”
The study also determined that red logos inspired feelings of expertise and self-assurance. These findings are certainly revealing and useful, but it’s not sufficient to use colors to steer how people feel while they browse your website.
Just making people feel confident isn’t necessarily going to land you more sales. Your goal is to rouse the same emotions your customers believe they’ll experience when they purchase and own your product.
For example, if you sell handmade chocolates, your customers are likely to seek a decadent taste experience. They may associate the taste of fine chocolate with feelings of happiness and joy.
If you use colors on your website that encourage those same feelings of happiness and joy, that can help to align your aims with what they desire – to feel good – and they’ll be more likely to buy your chocolate.
- Your typography is supported best when your layout colors match
Choosing a color scheme for your layout isn’t as easy as you might think. The navigation menu might look terrific, but if it doesn’t matches or dovetail with your header and typography, then they could be working against one another.
The key is to get all your design elements to coordinate. There are no hard-and-fast rules about choosing any particular colors; some designers have managed to make complicated color schemes work effectively.
If you’re not passionate about spending dozens of hours putting together a complex color layout, because you’d rather get on with finishing your website and taking it live, then a simple approach to color is probably sufficient.
One of the best examples of a simple approach is the blog for Green Residential. The company’s main color scheme consists of simple green and blue, and it works well.
This is not just because green and blue are complementary, but because the pair flows with the rest of the website. Because Green Residential chose a simple color scheme, it was able to craft matching typography throughout the site.
The article headings are blue, and so are the links. Green-ribbon graphics are used to display the date on which each article was published, the logo is green, and the call-to-action buttons are green as well.
This fluidity in design wouldn’t be possible if had the firm had chosen, for example, purple or orange, striking though they might have been.
- Your color scheme might be associated with a holiday
Black and red are wonderfully complementary, and so are black and gold. But those color combinations might not be a good choice for a website.
Black and red can show up online as dark and dreary. Black and gold are generally reserved for high-end products and services, which may not the implication you want to give visitors about your products.
As a rule, any color scheme that’s generally perceived to refer to a specific time of year – such as blue and yellow for Easter, or red and green for Christmas — should probably be avoided .. unless, of course, your business targets that particular theme so you want your website to do so as well.
You should be forewarned that any attempt to “re-brand” popular color schemes is going to be an uphill battle. Even people who don’t celebrate Christmas will think of Santa Claus, elves, and reindeer if you use a red-and-green palette. Similarly, black and orange will make at least some visitors think of Halloween.
For the best user experience, select colors that elicit the ideal emotions, and blend well with all the rest of your design elements.