“You can make your visitors feel excited, engaged, and even inspired by the visual design of your website, which is the key to turning visitors into customers.”
There is one thing that everyone designing a website needs to have a firm grasp on–the use of color and the response that it provokes in the viewer. Once you know the function of each color, you can deliberately design your website around the responses you want your visitors to have.
Using Color Deliberately
Firstly, you have to appreciate something that artists and designers have known for a long time: The use of colors in art, as well as practical design for things such as a business website, is not based on arbitrary choices. If one does choose colors for specific functions on a website based subjectively on what seems to look best, then the result will be aesthetically pleasing (at least to the designer’s eyes); however, it will not effectively produce a planned reaction from the viewer. This is why color theory exists. Different colors, or combinations of colors, inspire different emotional responses, actions, and conclusions in the eyes of a visitor to your site. A web designer can use this principle to assign specific colors to each aspect of a website that get the reaction he wants from a visitor.
The Intrinsic Associations of Color
Though most of us are completely unaware of it, every color holds a universal meaning that causes us to react in a specific way. These reactions have been well-documented, which is why we can use colors to our advantage by directing the viewer to respond in exactly the way we want them to. Here is a general run-down on the psychological connections that we have with colors, from a list contained in an article by Josh Pigford, How Color Theory Affects Landing Page Conversion.
Blue evokes a solid feeling, lending itself to trustworthiness and sincerity.
Yellow is youthful and optimistic.
Red is a physical color that inspires urgency, as well as a feeling of warmth.
Green is a relaxing color that is among the easiest for the eyes to process.
Orange has been proven to be the best color for conversion, or call-to-action. An aggressive, fun color.
Pink is romantic and feminine, being associated with tranquility and sexuality.
Purple is seen as soothing, also representing luxury and quality.
Black conveys sophistication, as well as power.
The choice is yours when it comes to picking the appropriate individual colors or schemes for your website, but the result will be far more effective when you can create directed responses from your visitors. This list is only a general guideline, and it is good to do your own research to be sure you are using the right colors for your purpose.
Perspective of an Artist
I sat down with a working artist for a brief interview, and we talked color. Her point-of-view reveals valuable insight that is completely transferrable to the world of web design. “Color is definitely very powerful, and I use a lot of it,” says Lindsey Price, an artist from Anniston, AL. Lindsey has been working as a printmaker for more than 6 years, and in addition to creating her own pieces, she has recently written her own curriculum for a course which is based around color theory.
After asking her only a handful of questions about her thoughts and feelings on color, it quickly became clear that, as you would imagine, the thoughtful use of color is integral to her work as an artist. She is very much aware of the value of using color effectively, always asking herself, “This is what I want to create–How can I use color to help express that, to help emphasize that point?” She remarks that color is equally, if not more important than all other elements of design, explaining that she can create something “strictly based off of color that may not have a specific image, but [the viewer] is still able to evoke feeling from it.”
Wielding color to produce a desired effect in web design mirrors the process artists use when they create art. “You can use it for so many different things. You can use it for emotion; you can use it for emphasis,” said the printmaker, as she explained her process. The right color choice, or contrast of color can even “draw your eye to a certain place.” Lindsey was not always aware of these principles. It was more like reverse-engineering, wherein after learning the theory behind color, she discovered exactly why the choices she made worked. “It was what felt right, but I didn’t know how to explain it … but now I know–it feels right because of this (principles of color theory).” Once she gained a deeper understanding of the way color works, she found that it enriches her work to “research every little detail of what I’m doing, just to make it that much more powerful.” She goes on, “you can make it anything you want,” speaking of a design project, “but at the same time, [principles of color] have been studied enough to know what emotion you subliminally feel when you see these colors.”
Her general approach to using color translates very well to the aspects of web design. Color should be used as a tool to connect with the viewer. As soon as someone lands on your page, they are immediately drawing conclusions about your company, and they will decide very quickly whether they feel good about buying what you are selling. You can make your visitors feel excited, engaged, and even inspired by the visual design of your website, which is the key to turning visitors into customers.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.