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Articles - Psychology of Color

Color is a very important element of your website. Have you ever been to a page that had a yellow background and bold red text?....how long did you stay there for......

If you're anything like me - color challenged - choosing the look of your web site can be a particularly difficult task.

When color is used correctly, it can add impact and clarity to your message and highlight important points. When color is used incorrectly, it can compromise your message and confuse your target audience - to the point that they click their way out of your site as quickly as they can, usually screaming and cursing as they do so!

Color can make visiting your website a more pleasant experience in 2 very important ways

- Color emphasizes, highlights, and leads the eye to important points or links. 

- Color symbolizes and triggers emotions and memories.

When I'm out scouring the net for resources, I'm usually zapping from site to site at a rapid rate, watching the clock to see how much time I have left before having to move on to other things, my eyes and brain become bored with repetition. But when I hit a site that has a particular color scheme (lilacs, believe it or not!), I switch into cruise mode and take my time....seriously. But color is a very personal thing

The interpretation of a color depends on age, nationality, profession, current trends and personal preference. In general, the colors red, orange, and yellow are "exciting" colors and the colors purple, blue, and green are "calming" colors.

Black is an interesting case. Taming the Beast.net's colors used to be black background with silver text. This had a mixed response from people who visited. Black is associated with death, underground, decay etc, etc, but also has corporate overtones (hmmm, I see a pattern emerging!). 

My reasons for using black were:

a) - I liked it!
b) - After cruising around on the Internet for a few hours looking at white backgrounds until my eyes are threatening to become explosive projectiles, I found that a black background on a site relieved them.
c) - Contrast qualities for laptop users and the visually impaired.
d) - The theme of the site at the time, portraying the PC as an evil force to be reckoned with!
d) - I liked it!

I am by no means saying that you SHOULD use a black background, merely stating the reasons why I used it. As time went on and Taming the Beast.net evolved, the color scheme was changed to blues and black.

Bear in mind that current trends will also play a big role in color schemes - the offline fashion world plays a very big role in influencing the online world. A good strategy is to create your site in such a way that if a color change has to be carried out, it can be done so easily.

For any color that you are considering utilizing, give some thought as to the reasons for doing so. For example, I would strongly recommend against using black backgrounds with pink to purple text - these colors are strongly associated with umm, undesirable sites.

As I mentioned, I'm no expert in color psychology - so here's a link to one of the best color resources I've come across in recent times:


Further learning resources

Web site branding concepts
http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/brandingconcepts.htm

Building an ecommerce web site

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/ecommerce-site-s1p1.htm 

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
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