How Do Colour Schemes Affect Your Website

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The short answer? Significantly!

Now for the longer answer.

Did you know that research has identified that 90% of people make a snap decision to purchase a product dependent on colour alone? People also make decisions on what they deem is the correct ‘fit’ of a colour to a product?

No? Then this article is for you. The importance of colour has been researched and debated about, and while no one definitive guide exists, there are facts and information that can help you improve the functionality of your websites colour scheme.

What do you need to Know?

As a digital marketer, your website is an essential communication tool with your customers and potential customers. The website colour scheme is often an overlooked element, yet it should not be. Current research has indicated it can have a positive or negative effect on those that are viewing it. Colour psychology offers a lot of insight into what responses the different colours and their variants can precipitate. Which are easy on the eye, what colour creates an emphasis, what will encourage someone to click? What colours do the eyes skim over, what might be boring or be so distracting the visitor can’t concentrate?

Your website needs to use a colour scheme to entice, encourage, stimulate and attract; simple if you follow some basic rules.

While a colourful image can catch the eye, it is not necessarily a comfortable feeling over the long term.  While the temptation to include every positive colour you can identify, be more subtle, otherwise it will have the effect of the Indian Festival of colour, fun, bright, fast but not somewhere to linger.

Choosing A Website Colour Scheme

Tip: There are no set ‘rules’. The context you are working in, is the critical consideration, the feeling, the mood and the image you are creating that matters.

The colour on your website creates an immediate first impression as it communicates with your viewers emotionally, even though they remain largely unaware of this.

Strident, abstract, or a mish-mash of colours can have your traffic quickly moving on.

So, you look at the range of colours available to you, and it can feel overwhelming. How do you choose?

Build your own colour palette.

When considering how many colours to incorporate into your website colour scheme the 60-30-10 rule from interior and fashion design is an excellent guide. This suggests you can achieve perfect harmony by using three colours in varying degrees of 60%, 30% & 10%.

  • Primary Colour – using up about 60% of the space and be the unifying theme of the website
  • 30% colour – this secondary colour creates a contrast with the primary tone to produce a visually striking effect.
  • 10% colour – establishes the accent which should complement either the primary or secondary shade.

There are tools around that can help you create your perfect colour scheme, check out these three;

While three colours are considered an optimum number even up to five will work if used harmoniously. You can always subtract or add to gain the optimal effect.

Don’t forget that you can incorporate hints and shades of the colours you have chosen. This helps to develop additional colour choices that can unify your design without adding more colours.

Using a colour wheel that reflects the relationship between colours is a useful tool in helping you decided your primary, secondary and tertiary colours

What Colours Work – Points To Consider

Colours emotionally affect individuals in different ways depending on their personal experience, but research has shown that you can apply colour perception patterns to help formulate your website colour palette.

Numerous studies are indicating some gender similarities about colour and some disparities.  As a rule of thumb, women prefer softer tones; shades, tints and hues mixed with white. While men like bold colours where black has been incorporated. Interestingly both sexes in Joe Hallock’s Colour Assignment research show a preference for blue.

Remember when choosing your colours to consider the cultural and ethnic implications. In Western countries, the colour black represents sophistication, luxury, a bold statement, yet in India, the same colour represents evil, negativity and low energy.

That does not mean you cannot dare to be different. The psychological principle known as the Isolation Effect notes that something that doesn’t conform to the norm, in fact ‘stands out like a sore thumb’ is more likely to be remembered. So, while other colour preference research indicates a vast majority of consumers like colour patterns with similar hues, an aesthetic preference; they favour palettes with contrasting accent colour.

Colour can stimulate action, so go back and look at your business goals.  What do want from whom? Once you know your target audience, you can then select the most appropriate colour combinations. Here are a few ideas to think about.

  • Youthful and energetic – use bold pops of colour, like neon pink, with blue and yellow against a grey, muted background with a sleek, minimal design.
  • An inviting, warm, peaceful experience – play around with warm tones, yellow and golds and balance that out with deeper tones like navy.
  • A quirkier, stand out site – go for more fun colours like bright blues, purples, yellows orange etc., add your brand personality to the site.
  • Simple, classic design – monochrome works well here, maybe using a bright colour like tangerine to draw attention – the 10%! A minimal modern design.
  • A corporate professional feel – the colours navy against an oatmeal background works well here.
  • A tropical, colourful feel, without the Indian colour festival effect, – use splashes of neon colour, brilliant greens with vibrant violet edged with royal blue. To keep the vibrancy under control put them against white or off-white.

The answer to how does a colour scheme affect your website is a long but interesting one, as a digital marketer can you afford to ignore this element? The answer is no, you cannot. Your brand identity and personality are intrinsically linked to your colour palette. It is what keeps people on your site and incites them to action.

No need to be conservative, but you do need to be aware of what works, then you can push the boundaries a little further.

Use colour and make your site, sleek and sophisticated or bold and punchy. Let it be fun and professional, elegant and sophisticated or sharp and edgy – with a colour palette the choice is endless.

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