The Internet is a visual and psychological medium. Color is a design element that subconsciously results in a high-level of reflective response; it leaves a strong and lasting impression with website visitors. The colors you choose for your website background, header, text, images and photography all have a lasting psychological impact on your website visitors.
For example, you click on a link to a site and the background is a bright, eye-burning yellow with lots of red. Immediately you want out. This strong reaction occurs because reds and yellows are colors that draw attention and should be used minimally.
Your company logo will dictate exactly what color pallet should be used on your website. Therefore, when designing your logo, it is imperative to consider the cognitive impression that your logo colors deliver.
Here is a list of some common colors and the psychological emotions they invoke:
RED – love, passion, danger, warning, excitement, food, impulse, action, adventure.
BLUE – trustworthiness, success, seriousness, calmness, power, professionalism.
GREEN – money, nature, animals, health, healing, life, harmony.
ORANGE – comfort, creativity, celebration, fun, youth, affordability.
PURPLE – royalty, justice, ambiguity, uncertainty, luxury, fantasy, dreams.
WHITE – innocence, purity, cleanliness, simplicity.
YELLOW – curiosity, playfulness, cheerfulness, amusement.
PINK – softness, sweetness, innocence, youthfulness, tenderness.
BROWN – earth, nature, tribal, primitive, simplicity.
GREY – neutralality, indifference, reserved.
BLACK – seriousness, darkness, mystery, secrecy.
The Internet is full of research on color influence for varying cultures, ages, classes and genders. Sites like design-seeds.com can inspire color combinations and give both the professional and amateur an idea of how an image and its composite colors can inspire a feeling or emotion, showing colors that work together rather than compete. It’s this cohesion of colors that demand attention in website creation.
Color popularity ebbs and flows. Black web pages were all the rage a few years ago, and now you hardly see it at all (but it will surely come back into style as I write this). Colors also tend towards seasonality, meaning the designs often reflect the colors of nature when they were built. Winter tends toward more grays and duller colors, while spring tends toward more green and more vibrant colors, etc.
Overall, deciding on colors for your website should be chosen with two key questions. Who is your target audience? What psychological impact do you want to create?