Psychology of Colour In Modern Day Website Design

What is the primary, simplest, most filtered out thing you want your website to do or be? Why you want it to look good of course. This may sound a bit obtuse, but it does go a bit deeper. Namely, the question you need to ask yourself then is what makes a website look good, why are people drawn to one website, and repulsed by another? Sure, the answer to this question may be – quality fonts, good use of colour, a clear interface… But we want to go deeper with this article, we want to talk about why we perceive a certain design or colour scheme is good. In fact, we intend to focus on the latter.

What is the psychology behind the colour choice for a website, why do we like one type of colour, and dislike another? What makes a human being prefer one over the other, what are the emotions behind our choices and our preferences? By understanding the psychology behind colours in modern-day website design, we believe you will get a deeper grasp of the choices and colour schemes you implement. 

Biological background

Without going too deep into evolutionary psychology, the emotions that colours evoke are centred on some ancient systems and associations. For example, green gives a soothing feeling because we connect it with nature, with green trees, grass, and vegetation (something we will talk about more lately). Now, every time you see a colour, you activate certain parts of the hypothalamus of your brain, you instigate a chain reaction. This triggers a release of hormones, which go to your thyroid, which then activate certain emotions that influence what you do and how you react. This is a very deep and primal reaction, and it truly speaks of the importance of colours for our daily behaviour. It can be seen in anything from the design of your logo, to the look of the entire website.

Contrast and brightness of colours

Before we go into detail about the colours themselves, know that there are two aspects that should not be neglected, aspects that complicate matters a bit. So, brightness, for example, appeals to men more than it appeals to women. Women like softer, gentler colours, things that are soothing and relaxing. Men prefer colours that are bright and energetic. While this is a gross overgeneralization, it still holds true more often than not. A website dedicated to products for women will be better off with soft, gentle colours, while for men something a bit more wild is better. 

No matter these preferences based on gender and sex, brighter colours always stand for energy, movement, and at times even aggression. Softer, darker colours, are more stable, they are grounded, but can be seen as boring, or even depressing. It’s all about the right combination. 

Contrast is relevant because it influences readability. Everyone has seen a website that is an absolute nightmare to read because of either a very weak, or a very high, contrast. Finding the right balance is tough, and there is no shame in employing a freelancer or a specialized web design Sydney company, that can help you get that balance right.  Fonts that have a colour that clashes with the background don’t really invoke a good reaction from readers. However, on certain images or banners, a nice contrast can really make a design element pop. Too much contrast and it hurts your eyes. Too little, and the text will mesh with the background.

What colour represents

Every colour creates a certain reaction, invokes a certain emotion. They all widely differ, and their meaning can depend on their brightness, as well as the surrounding colours. For example, using colour for your business’s Facebook cover should mesh with the profile picture. If possible, they should all follow the same design that shapes your company website. 

First, let’s start with red. Red is the main attention grabber. It is the colour of passion, of fire, of blood and of love. It gets people going, it’s a call to action. It represents danger, and as we all know, the danger is something we all want to avoid, and something that we are all drawn to. Brighter shades of red are youthful and provoke a sense of adventure. Darker reds are strong, they comfort you, or they can be sensual. Think of a strong, deep red building, or a soft, velvet dress. 

Blue is trustworthy and cool. Darker shades give it a melancholy, poetic feeling, while brighter shades give a sense of urgency, even coolness. 

Black is power and stability. It can signify elegance, strength, but also something, well, dark and evil. White, on the other hand, is pure and clean, but if used at the wrong point can signify something clinical and dead. These two are perhaps the most contextually subjective colours to use.

Green is nature, health, and tranquillity. We closely associate it with nature, we feel rejuvenated and optimistic when we look at it. Darker shades are stability, while lighter shades signify growth, the coming of spring, and re-awaking of nature. 

Yellow is soothing, it signifies caution, but also a lack of worry and stress. Very energizing, it’s closely associated with sunshine, with warmth and joy. Darker shades are classy, golden and antique. Brighter shades are childish and fun.

Conclusion

Colours are very influential, towards our thought process, to the way we think, feel, act… It stands to reason that understanding the way this works, the emotions colours invoke, will help you greatly in designing a website. Get a clear understanding of how colours work, how much brightness and contrast matters, and you will be good to go.