Colour theory for your website (Part 1)

There’s no denying the strong link between colours and emotions. The correct colour scheme can create the right mood and atmosphere, and in web design, has even been shown to improve conversion rates. So, if the right colours can help grow your business, it’s crucial to use the right ones.

But, how do you know which colours will best influence your specific market?

In this, our three part series on web design and colour theory, we explore how colour can be one of your most effective marketing tactics. Specifically, we look at the basics behind colour theory (Part 1), examine the more popular colours (Part 2), examine less popular colours and provide some useful colour selection tools to make your life easy (Part 3).

Colour theory explained

Relax, we won’t be tackling this in its entirely. There are whole books written on colour theory, so we’ll just be looking at its relevance to web design.

Fundamentally, colour theory is the interaction of colours in a design through complementation, contrast and vibrancy:

  • Complementation: This refers to the way we see colours in relation to others. Complementing colours are those opposite each other on the colour wheel (e.g. purple’s complement is green). They accent each other and make for appealing design.
  • Contrast: Contrast reduces eyestrain and focuses the user’s attention. The importance of contrasting colours is most evident when choosing an effective text colour and background (e.g. black text on white background). Using a variety of contrasting colours also helps focus the user’s attention on specific page elements.
  • Vibrancy: The vibrancy of colours evokes mood. For instance, brighter colours tend to energise and make users more alert, while darker shades are more relaxing and peaceful.

Even from this basic definition of colour theory you can start to appreciate the depth of this field and its importance in marketing and website design.

Colour and marketing

Each colour has a meaning attached to it and generates specific emotions. The right colours can communicate and reinforce your product, service or particular point of difference. For instance, in many situations yellow is used to evoke optimism, clarity and warmth, while blue is used to reinforce trust and strength.

Added to this, there are gender-specific preferences in relation to colours. Here cultural perceptions play an important part, but research points to how men prefer bold colours while women prefer soft colours. Interestingly, research shows that blue is favoured across both sexes while purple is limited just to women.

Beyond evoking a spot-on emotional response, colour in web design is also used to draw the eye. Colour can be used to make something stand out on the page, to make it more recognisable, memorable and actionable. For instance, you’ll likely get a better conversion if your call-to-action button stands out like a sore thumb.

Also, colour helps promote familiarity by guiding users throughout the site. Consistency across the site will help users to know when to take action and how to find what they’re looking for quickly.

Popular colours in web design

Ever wondered why blue is the most popular colour used on social media sites? Or why more businesses are choosing rainbow or multiple colours for their website design? In Part 2 and Part 3 of our series on Web Design and Colour Theory, we answer these questions and more. We will delve deeper into the most popular colours, explain what each colour means, show you some great web design examples and provide some really useful colour selection tools.

As one of Brisbane’s premier web design and creative agencies, iFactory uses the principles of colour theory each and every day. So, if you’re looking to redesign your business website and in broadening your appeal to your target market, contact iFactory today on 07 3844 0577.

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