Color is often a forgotten factor in online design. Online merchants spend millions to hone their Web site designs, but they sometimes forget to research their color choices as well. That interferes with their attempt to build a brand relationship with their customers and also affects purchasing behavior.
Color invokes a physical reaction in the human brain. These reactions can perpetuate the mood or tone of your customer in a quick glance, leading to an association of your brand, products or service offerings. You’ll want to make sure that association is favorable.
Psychologically, color can have many different meanings for different cultures, age groups and gender. One of the biggest mistakes an online retailer can make is choosing a color without first knowing how it could be perceived by their target audience. So the first positive step in choosing the appropriate color is knowing exactly to whom you’re selling.
For example, the color white is often associated with wedding celebrations in Western societies like the US, but in Chinese cultures it signifies funerals. Men have been found to prefer bright colors, while women prefer softer colors. Remember, just because you like the color orange doesn’t mean your customer does.
Typically colors can be classified into three categories: warm, cool and neutral. Warm colors like red and yellow are often associated with power, creativity and optimism. Cool colors like blue and green are often associated with beauty and calmness. Neutral colors such as white and black are most popularly associated with good and evil. However, white can also be associated as innocent, and black as elegant.
When you’re building your brand online, think about what a color means before committing to it. The following is a reference list of primary colors, their typical association with online viewers, and their possible uses.
- Blue is many people’s favorite color, and is associated with honesty.
Possible Use: Software.
- Green is good to use if you want to symbolize growth or show your company’s power.
Possible Use: Finance.
- Red is an aggressive and exciting color that gets your customers’ attention.
Possible Use: Hardware and automotive.
- Black shows off power and elegance and works best for expensive or luxury items.
Possible Use: Luxury Automotive.
- Orange provides a feeling of satisfaction to your viewer.
Possible Use: Online Content Provider.
- Yellow works best to showcase feelings of warmth.
Possible Use: Kids’ Products.
- Purple suggests sophistication and passion.
Possible Use: Jewelry.
- White is elegant and clean.
Possible Use: Heavy Content Sites.
Using Color Effectively
Once you’ve done your due diligence and chosen the colors that best fit your target audience, you can begin to utilize those colors to enhance your clicks and your bottom line.
One of the best ways to use color is to draw the customer’s eye to a specific point of interest on your site. One way to do this is by creating contrasts between colors. Contrast can be used to separate points of information, allowing the viewer to easily distinguish the difference between all the information presented. Just be sure to choose colors that are complementary to each other.
For example, colors based on the same hues, like red and orange, often don’t work well against one another. Green and yellow are another example of colors that should be blended carefully, if at all.
Contrast is also important when displaying ads within your site design. Typically, one might think that you should create direct color contrast with an advertisement. However, in today’s online ad space, it pays to look less like an ad and more like regular content.
Build Your Brand
What color is a Coca-Cola can? Unless you are color blind, you know that it is red. You know it so well that you can picture the can in your head and even visualize the shade of red. Imagine you are standing 100 yards away looking at a fence with three soda cans sitting on it. There is a red can, a blue can and a green can. Without being able to read the logos on the can, you’d still be able to know that the red one is a Coke can, right?
Color is a powerful way to drive your brand identity into the minds of your customers. Done right, through consistency over time, your customers will begin to associate your color choice to your products and services. So choose wisely.
Most monitors today can handle millions of colors; therefore, adhering to the browser-safe palette of 216 colors is not completely necessary these days. Unless you’re a stickler for exact consistency, it’s not something about which you should worry too much.
However, that doesn’t mean you should turn your Web site into a rainbow of colors. First, choose your primary color, and then choose two to three complementary colors to use as accent within your site design. This set of colors will become your color palette. Stick to your palette to create a sense of consistency across your designs.
White space is one of the most important graphic elements of any design. It is defined as the space in your design that exists between page elements like headlines, blocks of type, ads, photos, etc.
Too little use of white space can make your Web site look crowded. Too much use of white space can separate and distance your message. Use white space to create a Web site that has “breathing room” for your messages, which in turn makes them more readable and ultimately more attractive.
JIM F. KUKRAL serves as brand manager and director of e-marketing for KowaBunga Technologies, which makes My Affiliate Program tracking software.