“The world is a carousel of color.” So proclaimed the theme song to Walt Disney’s 1954 television program, “The Wonderful World of Color.” As we ride around on this so-called carousel, it’s only natural for us to be stirred and moved by the colors that swirl around us. Have you ever felt pacified by a cloudless blue sky? Has the sight of a green meadow ever made you feel connected to the earth? Perhaps a woman dressed all in black once struck you as mysterious. Color has the power to stir emotional responses. By understanding the psychology of color, evidence-based marketers can gain an advantage when supervising application designs.
In his excellent article on color psychology, web designer and blogger Al Martinovich discusses how color can influence online marketing engagements. By understanding the way colors assert subconscious influence, web designers can choose color palletes that target particular demographics and stir emotional responses. The right color pallet has the power to generate more clicks and decrease bounce rate.
Color Psychology 101
Here are some color psychology basics that can help you with application design:
Red: Red is the color of love, passion, intensity, excitement, adventure and indulgence. It’s common to see red on sites about food or dating for example.
Blue: Blue is associated with calmness, trustworthiness, professionalism and seriousness.
Green: Green brings to mind images of affluence, money, nature, harmony, rejuvenation and healing.
Orange: Orange is associated with creativity, comfort, fun and affordability.
White: White conjures images of purity and cleanliness, innocence and purity.
Yellow: A playful color, yellow can denote happiness and amusement.
Brown: Brown taps into a tribal, primitive and earthly simplicity.
Gray: Gray is associated with indifference and neutrality. As such, it’s often used in application design to color negative space.
Black: Black communicates an air of secrecy, mystery and intrigue.
So which colors are right for your website? That depends on what you are selling. Once you understand the psychology of color, common sense comes into play. If you are selling lawn mowers you might choose green. If you are selling hiking shoes, you might want to elicit primal notions in consumers and center application design around the color brown. But as evidence-based marketers, we know that intuition can only take you so far.
How Changing the Color of One Link Dramatically Boosted Conversions
Successful application design requires A/B testing to find the colors that will generate the most clicks. Changing the color of link text alone can substantially impact your click-through rate. A Visualwebsiteoptimizer.com case study reveals that when the Belgium-based company Beamax simply changed the color of link text from blue to red, it ended up generating 53% more clicks!
The pages are identical except for the color of the CTA link text. In this case, red inspired action.
User Experience Must Play a Primary Role to Color
Though color psychology should play an integral role in application design, your first consideration should always be user experience. Yellow letters on a white background, for example, would force users to strain their eyes, as would dark navy blue text on a black background. Sometimes a clean, simple design is preferable. TechCrunch recently reported that Amazon.com plans to roll out a site-wide redesign that has diminished the prevalence of their iconic blue menu bars and employs a greater use of white negative space. Knowing Amazon, it’s safe to assume that these design decisions were influenced by extensive testing.
As Dr. LeRoy Bessler states in his abstract on color application design, “design color applications to communicate, not decorate.” Be aware that colors are symbols that interact with subconscious layers of the human psyche. As the Beamax case study demonstrated, a seemingly simple color change can have lucrative or catastrophic results. But by understanding color psychology and conducting appropriate tests, you can find the color scheme that will be best for your bottom line.