Posted by: Tim Moore | February 7, 2008

How Colors Influence Site Visitors

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Like death and taxes, there is no escaping color, or it’s powerful influence. Why are people more relaxed in green rooms?  Why do weightlifters do their best in blue gyms? Add to this that in various cultures, colors often have differnet meanings.  For us, understanding color psycology (the ‘meaning’ of various colors) is very important before you begin designing, or advising a client on a websitee.   While debated by ‘artists’ the world over, in the U.S., researchs have generally found the following to be accurate: 

    Black – Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black

    White – Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.

    Red – The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.

    Blue – The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

    Green – Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.

    Yellow – Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism. 

    Purple – The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

     Brown Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

Also, this is a very good article, “Find Out What Colors Will Cause Your Visitors to Hate You.”  Take a minute to read it, it’s well researched and written:  http://www.designmore.com/find_out_what_colors.htm   (Don’t skip the 45 second vision test about halfway through the article: http://www.designmore.com/ctesta.htm )

Microsoft also has a good article on this subject, found here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/frontpage/HA010429371033.aspx

Bottom Line:  In our Western culture, colors have either a positive or negative effect depending on the context used, and evoke responses of those viewing them.  So, choose carefully!

All the best to you.

Tim

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