- Thursday, June 7, 2012

Color Psychology

For any design element on the web, from the entire blog to an image being posted, color plays a very important factor and often is the most difficult to choose. You can play with colors for hours trying to decide what matches what.

What exactly is the purpose you are trying to achieve with this graphic? Make a sale? Get someone to read your blog? Get someone to laugh? Cheer up their day?

Consider the colors that match the overall purpose according to psychological theory, which most of it if you sit and think about it, you can see where they are coming from on this.  Pick one main color to emphasize the overall goal and one or two other colors that kind of also feed your purpose.

Warm Colors vs. Cool Colors - let the showdown begin

 From the link...
  • Relaxing
  • Move away from eye
  • Healing, rejuvenating
  • Releasing
  • Can decrease productivity
  • Make heavy objects appear lighter
  • Produce centripetal action where energy flows inward therefore cool colors enhance your ability to concentrate
  • Green, blue-green, and blue make the temperature feel cooler
  • Cool colors make rooms seem larger
  • Preference for cool colors usually means you are an introvert

  • Energizing
  • Move towards eye
  • Joy, happiness, enthusiasm
  • Difficult for concentration sometimes
  • Make light objects appear heavier
  • Produce centrifugal action where energy flows outward therefore warm colors make people cheerful and active
  • Bright, warm colors like yellow and orange improve IQ
  • Warm colors make rooms seem smaller
  • Red, orange, yellow-ochre, pure yellow, yellow-orange make the temperature feel warmer
  • Preference for warm colors usually means you are an extrovert

Each specific psychological association to color depends greatly on culture and personal experience. Some studies suggest universal associations

Yellow is a clear attention-grabber and mostly associated with liveliness and the feeling of happiness. It is energetic.
Orange radiates cheerfulness, enthusiasm and creativity, but what is very often important when designing web sites, it is also associated with affordability.
Red is mostly associated with boldness, excitement and desire. It is a powerful color, whose negative associations due to traffic lights, alarms etc. should not be underestimated.
Pink is usually associated with romance and tenderness, but it has also been shown to have a calming effect. After adjusting, the calming effect usually transforms into agitation.
Purple has traditionally long been associated with power, nobility and wealth. It is also strongly associated with wisdom and spirituality, as well as magic and mystery.
Blue is one of the most liked colors, especially by men. It is linked with depth and stability, professionalism, honor and trust. Blue raises productivity, and diminishes the appetite.
Green is the color of nature and everything natural. It is identified with safety and optimism, durability and reliability, harmony and freshness. It is a calming and stress relieving color.
Brown is a reassuring color of endurance, relaxation and confidence. It can be thought of as conventional or rather sophisticated and solid.
Gray provokes feelings of conservatism, traditionalism and seriousness.
White signifies purity and innocence. Further associations are cleanliness, newness and simplicity.
Black is, especially in design, an elegant and stylish color which can imply sophistication and strength, or provoke feelings of mystery. It is also associated with depth or gloom.

Other color associations in general that are not usually considered universal but often used in marketing (with some Jung based for dreams)...

Red: power, desire, sensuality, excitement, warning, energy
Pink: Love and friendship
Orange: creative, warm, enthusiasm, peace
Yellow: cheerful, friendly, intelligence, happiness, peace
Green: growth, finance, freshness, healing, fertility
Blue: spirituality, trust, relaxation, loyalty, reliability
Turquoise: healing, spirituality
Purple: wisdom, knowledge, nobility, luxury, royalty, magic
Gray: tradition, conservative, serious, fear
Black: unknown, elegance, sophistication, formal
White: truth, purity, innocence, simplicity
Brown: grounding, family, earthy, casual, confident
Gold: divinity, luxury

Some color combinations also have meaning such as the obvious holiday/seasonal colors: red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, brown for Thanksgiving, red and pink for Valentines, pastels for Easter and spring... Wearing red and black like the black widow spider is considered a powerful look whereas wearing neutrals blends with the background more. Professional colors tend to be reserved for brown, black and blue. 

For purposes of the web, earthy colors like brown, green, tans and beige make a great color combination for all natural products and earth-friendly blogs. Add black to that scheme and you got a military camouflage. Also, different shades of tans and a dark, deep red or Navy are military-friendly colors. Most baby websites tend to use pastel baby blue, baby pink, yellow and green. Less obvious, many photography sites use a lot of black and white. Girly glam tends to use pink and black. 

More Colors and the Web

Red is a good accent color as it stimulates people to make quick decisions. Blue has a rather calming effect, however when combined with warm colors (yellow, red), it can result in vibrant and high-impact designs. Blue also makes time pass more quickly. Yellow stimulates mental activity and is very effective as an attention grabber. Green - as a predominant color on a website - has been known to drive people away, so in most cases, unless the website is associated with nature, it is better to use it only for website accents. Orange is highly accepted among young people.