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How colour can make a difference to your website

Published on September 6, 2012
Tags: Web Design London

When designing a website the focus is often on logos, layout and content but how much thought is put into the colours you use? Many of us will often choose our favourite colour or one which simply seems to 'appeal' at the time. The fact of the matter is that colour is absolutely vital to your website. Would you believe that whilst one colour can convey trust and reliability, another can signify cowardice and evil? Which would you want to convey and do you know which colour conveys which feeling? If not, you may want to read on...

You may be familiar with colours being arranged as a colour wheel, and there's a very good reason for this. Colours are split into three groups: primary, secondary and tertiary colours. Primary colours number only three: red, yellow and blue. These colours are used to make up every single other colour on the colour wheel. If you mix two primary colours together, the result is a secondary colour: orange (red and yellow), green (yellow and blue) and purple (blue and red). Add another primary colour to a secondary colour and the result is a tertiary colour, which tends to be a 'middle' colour or blend.

Colours which compliment each other nicely are called complimentary colours, and these tend to sit on opposite ends of the colour wheel. Blue and orange compliment each other, as do red and green and purple and yellow. The heavy contrast tends to be surprisingly easy on the eye. Analogous colours, on the other hand, tend to be right next to each other on the colour wheel and although the contrast is far less striking than with complimentary colours, they tend to match fairly well.

Colours can also be split by their warmth: either warm, cold or neutral colours. Reds, yellows and oranges tend to be warm colours whereas blues, greens and purples tend to be cold colours. Other colours, such as greys and browns tend to be neutral.

In terms of feelings and emotions, red tends to symbolise power and passion whilst also helping to build excitement and energy. However, red does have many negative connotations including anger, aggression and emergency situations. Orange, on the other hand, is not as aggressive as its neighbour but it does symbolise happiness and cheerfulness. It can also stand for deceit, though, so not ideal for your eCommerce website!

Whilst yellow represents joy, energy and intelligence, it can also signify caution and laziness. Green, on the other hand, is a natural colour symbolising growth and safety. There aren't many negative connotations for green, although it does symbolise money which can lead to thoughts of greed or jealousy. Blue, similarly, is a calming and stable colour which is often used on websites as it builds feelings of trust. However, as a cold colour it can turn off some potential customers.

Purples tend to convey feelings of wealth, luxury and royalty and is a highly creative colour. However, if you use a darker shade of purple it can give feelings of sadness and even depression. Blacks and whites are very interesting colours as they are not actually part of the colour wheel at all. Black is linked with power and elegance, but is also associated with death and sorrow so go easy on the black! White, although pure and innocent also gives feelings of being cold and distant due to its connections with winter.

Incredibly, you can design three identical websites using exactly the same design and wording but with only the colours changed between them and elicit entirely different responses from visitors to each of the sites. For this reason alone, colour should be your main consideration when looking at the design of your website or even your company's corporate colours. You should think about your company's values and try to select colours which convey the thoughts and feelings that you're trying to put across. Are you powerful and emotional? Use red. Do you want to convey trust and reliability? Opt for blues and greens. Something cutting edge and creative? Try purples. You can even pair colours, such as blue and orange which are complimentary colours and can convey a mixture of calmness and joyfulness.

Whatever look and feel you're trying to put across, you should always bear your choice of colours very strongly in mind.

By Chelsey Evans

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