One of the most frequent conversations I have with my web and blog design clients is about color. For most people color is a totally subjective topic – they have a color or colors that they really like and a color or colors that they really don’t. The rest of the color spectrum is, for most people, just there on the periphery and not something they pay particular attention to. This like and dislike for certain colors often finds its way into conversations about the design of a client’s website or blog. It’s my job to educate them that regardless of their personal feelings about color there’s much more at stake.
For designers, real designers not those who merely claim the title, the use of color is less about mere aesthetics – though certainly it plays a role – and more about psychology and science. The choice of color in a particular design directly effects the impression a visitor has about your site and the business or services behind it. If you question this at all consider for a moment the colors used in schools and hospitals where one sees mostly light blues and greens because of the specific psychological impact they have creating states of calm, quietude, higher thoughts and peace. Think also of the common colors used in prisons in the US – gray (or colors with a lot of gray overtones) due to its capacity to evoke psychological states of staidness, gloominess, quiet and security.
Many studies have been conducted to determine the psychological impact of color. From these studies certain truths have emerged and it is these truths that I and all good designers use to inform the designs that we create for our clients.
Some of these truths about color are as follows:
The Color Psychology of Black
Consider how black is used in our daily language: Black Death, blackout, black cat, black list, black market, black tie, black belt.
The Color Psychology of Green
Consider how green is used in language: green thumb, green with envy, greenhorn.
The Color Psychology of Orange
The Color Psychology of Blue
Consider how blue is used in language: blue moon, blue Monday, blue blood, the blues, and blue ribbon.
This is a long post. I’ll post more tomorrow about the psychology of other colors. The point of all of this is that color as it applies to designing for the web is far more important that the subjective like vs. don’t like. The effective use of color can either help you get your message across to your audience or it can ensure that you won’t.