Showing your True Colours

8th January 2015

Psychology shows us that the more choice we’re presented with, the harder it is to make a decision. And you only have to look at a paint colour chart to start flipping out. Choosing between 495 different shades of beige, from soft mink to smoked trout is enough to have you reaching for the magnolia. So when it comes to web design, then colour theory awareness is all part of a day’s work.

The human brain is remarkably good at recognising patterns — sometimes even when patterns aren’t there. And so too does the human brain respond to colour; which means that getting the colour right on a website has a huge impact on the result. Research shows that up to 90% of instant judgements about a company and product are made on the basis of colour alone.

As a result, colour needs to reflect both the product and the context. If branding from scratch is needed, then it’s important to express a company’s personality through colour as much as through layout. Choosing colours for effective web design involves creating a mood and feeling, but the relationship between brands and colour is also affected by the perceived appropriateness of the colour being used for the particular brand. So for example, brown and green might be great colours for an outdoor clothing company or a minty chocolate bar, but would be a very unlikely choice for a bathroom fitting retailer. Or at least until the avocado bath suite makes a comeback.

So as a key tool in the powerful psychological motivations behind effective websites that convert users, colour and design should work together for the best results.