How Color Schemes Affect Your Website & Visitors

Web & Ad Design Color Schemes

How The Psychology of Color Affects Web & Marketing Audiences

Revised December 13, 2017
Originally Published August 20, 2008

Color choice is an important factor when it comes to brand development or marketing collateral. Choosing a color scheme can greatly affect the success or failure of an advertising campaign.

When choosing a color scheme for a website, brand, marketing collateral or campaigns, there are two important factors to keep in mind:

  • How color choices affect the user's experience
  • How color affects the overall psychology of a campaign

Color Choice & User Experience

Bright Colors
  • Bright colors can be effective when used sparingly.

  • Choosing to use a bright color over a large or expansive space can cause irritation to the viewer.

For Example:

Imagine a web page or advertisement in which the background is a pure, bright yellow.

The bright yellow would be extremely distracting and annoying to the eye, making it difficult to read important text on the campaign advertisement.

  • Bright colors should rarely be used next to each other in large doses as the effects can be disastrous.

  • If using more than one bright color, choose the colors carefully and make sure to use complimentary colors.

  • Often bright colors are best when separated and used as small accents rather than covering large expansive areas.
Background Colors
  • Choosing background colors to cover large areas should be done carefully.

  • Often subtle, subdued colors are best for large areas such as web page backgrounds, posters, etc.

  • The goal of the background is to make the text and content of the page easy to read without distraction.

  • The background color should make the font of the page easy to read and understand without having to strain one's eyes to read.

  • A background color should never be distracting, but instead transparent and complimentary.

Color & Psychology

Colors are shown to cause certain psychological reactions and emotions when viewed by people.

In general, the following are some emotions that each of the following colors are known to invoke in individuals of western civilization:

  • Pink - friendly, compassionate, faithful, security, calm, romantic, imaginative
  • Red - energy, determination, hot, love, passion, anger, intense
  • Orange - caution, fun, warm, courageous, successful
  • Yellow - optimistic, sun, enthusiasm, warm, cheerful
  • Green - growth, abundance, vitality, expensive, greed
  • Blue - tranquil, intuitive, integrity, calm, authority, good will, cool
  • Purple - spiritual, passionate, visionary, royalty, integrity
  • Brown - stability, earthy, reliable, natural
  • Black - seduction, mysterious, sophisticated, tasteful, power, intellectual, impure
  • White - light, peaceful, sincere, affectionate, clean, pure
  • Gray - authority, neutrality, calm, power
  • Gold - wisdom, illumination, prestige, rich
  • Silver - cool, calm, prestigious, systematic

Summing Up Color Schemes & Marketing

Again, choosing the right color(s), and combination thereof when developing a website, branding, marketing collateral, or ad campaign; can make the difference between having a successful advertisement that people enjoy viewing, versus one that people cannot stand to view and scares them away.

  • Be careful and always test out color schemes on knowledgeable individuals to make sure the colors used are appropriate for the target audience.

  • The message portrayed to potential customers via the color scheme is important.

Often a website or ad campaign is the first contact with customers, so make sure the color scheme is portraying the message one intends to send about the company.

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