It’s back to the basics this week with an exploration of a concept introduced to us when we were wee toddlers – colours. Most artist will tell you that colours are for more than just making a page look pretty. Colours play an intricate role in overall design concepts and influence your users’ psychological and physical reaction to your page.
Having had colour so deeply embedded in cultural symbolism, the presence, and absence of certain colours on your web page can trigger emotional and semantic connections in your user’s neural network. Text aside, the colour alone can heavily influence your audience’s level of engagement with your page.
With the buffet of research on colour and psychology, it can be quite overwhelming to think about the palette that best suits you – not to mention interconnected factors such as gender, cultural bias, and education level and how they impact colour perception.
Fret not, this week we’ll be sharing some guiding principles on colour and how they might influence your web page design. Read on before you start pulling your hair out, and you can thank us later.
Read into Your User’s Psyche
By this, we mean read up on it. Blame it on the underlying psychological mechanisms, but studies have shown that certain palettes work well with your target audience. For example, preferences for colour differ between genders and could contribute to your conversion rates. There have been studies that reveal ‘a female aversion to earthy tones, and a preference for primary colours with tints.
For sites with a predominantly female target audience, taking into consideration the implications of this piece of psychological research could be a big part of the design planning. Doing sufficient research prior to the actual design could also help to dispel myths such as a woman’s preference for the colour pink (yikes).
Using Contrast to Make a Difference
There’s nothing like a splash of a contrasting colour to make elements of your page pop. Using contrasting colours – a single shade that defies the rest of your palette for example – can make a very impactful visual impression. Use a neutral colour scheme with a surprise colour contrast (yellow?) as the call-to-action buttons (Book Now!), and you could still put together an elegantly designed site.
Bright colours, when used far and few in between, can call for your user’s attention almost immediately by accenting the page. If you intend to use colour for this purpose, make sure to use the bright colour sparingly to retain its effectiveness.
Keep It Harmonious
In web design, colour applies to more than just the background of titles and colour of your text. Each element you put into the website has to be carefully curated to match and compliment the overall colour scheme of the site.
There has to be harmony between the images of your site and the palette that you have chosen for the site. For a coherent look and feel, it is best if the images on your site are stylised for your site or that you have specially filtered through them to be perfectly complementary. Without this level of attention to detail, you could run the risk of making the colour combinations on your site overly dramatic and therefore distracting.
Know Your Clichés
We are not necessarily suggesting that you follow the clichés, but knowing the stereotypical assumptions of certain colour palettes can be very useful. For starters, they provide you with a series of tools that you can tap on if you need to produce something quickly – like a campaign advert for your site.
Some associations worth keeping in mind – the colour pink as youthful, representing fun and romance; blue as a cool colour that symbolises reliability and trustworthiness; green as a portrayal of relaxation, freshness, and honesty and yellow as an energising colour often associated with children.
Just changing the shade of the colour, however, can have different connotations that are tagged to other ‘stereotypes’ of the colour. Knowing just how to bend your colours to create an expected finished look is the mark of a confident and experienced designer.
Don’t Fall Down the (Colour) Rabbit Hole
Whilst colour should be a major part your site design, it’s important that designers recognise that it’s not an exact science, and is instead, a subjective art that can still be perceived differently by different individuals.
On top of just thinking of the colour palette and how it serves its intended purpose, designers should not stray too far from the branding of the company and how the colours impact its consumers. It’s still important to think about how well the colours will be associated with your brand and products.
If you need a quick sense of this – test out the colour scheme on a focus group or some personas of your average consumer base. You would be surprised (pleasantly or otherwise) on the subtle nuances that your audience can pick up on just based on the colour scheme itself.
At Krome, we specialise in website design services as well as user interface websites. If you or your client are interested in creating a site, it’s time to tell us about your project or have a chat about what we can do. You can contact us here.