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Colour Guide

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Choosing Colours

1. Use a natural palette of colours.

They are more pleasing than any of their artificial counterparts. Combine them in order to get the emotional response that you want to get from your visitors. Unnatural colours, such as bright green, blue or red usually cause eye fatigue and chase visitors (i.e. prospects) away. Also you should be aware that primary colours like red, yellow or orange can work well for culinary promotion purposes.

2. Create a strong contrast between a page's background and its text.

The best combination for readability is black text on white background, but there are also other excellent combination. Besides white, other effective web site background colours are dark blue, gray and black. The situation is not the same for product promotions. When the product is the center of attention, desaturated colors are recommended. 

3. Select an average of 3 different colours and use them consistently throughout the web site.

Chromatic harmony is one of the most important criteria in order to create a pleasant experience for the visitors. It is strongly recommended that a moderate number of colours should be employed; four or five is ok; more than that not only will they create inconsistency, by they will also cause an eye sore for the visitor making him skip important parts of the site.

4. Be sure to take into account people with visual disabilities.

Make sure that the message of your site reaches such people as well. We have recently read a very useful article in this particular respect written by Aries Ardity (a vision science PhD), called Effective colour contrast.

The most important to-do's and not to-do's were taken from that article and reproduced below.

Keep in mind that responses to colours vary according to factors such as gender, age or cultural background. You need some serious market research in order to make your site appealing for the exact category you're targeting. Nevertheless, if you are interested in an official piece of recommendation, you should check out Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

Old vs. Young People

People of different ages have different reactions to colours. People past a certain age will find web sites with more sober and restrained (and therefore relaxing to the eye) colours more attractive. Youngsters, on the other hand, will appreciate more vivid and brighter colours. Make the distinction between mature and young audience by using the appropriate colours for each category.

Men vs. Women

People also have preferences according to their gender. Thus, men tend to prefer blue and orange to red and yellow, while women prefer red to blue and yellow to orange. Also, remember that it has been proven that women are able to perceive considerably more colours than men; in other words, while men may find peach, teal or peacock as mere notions, women associate these things with colours.

Also, free yourself from prejudices: if you are addressing to women, do not automatically employ pink. While some women may enjoy pink, others may not. We have recently encountered a very interesting study which revealed that blue is the favorite color of 57% of men and of 35% of women, so pay attentiona.

Nations and Colours

If your website addresses an audience larger than your country of origin or it is meant to attract prospects from a specific country, invest some time in researching the specific meanings of colours. For example, while white is a symbol of purity in Western cultures, it stands for bad luck and unhappiness in China, Japan, and India. While very appreciated in Japan, pink is frowned upon in India and East-European countries, where it is regarded as a 'non-manly' colours.

Purple is associated in certain Arabic cultures with prostitution (the same as red in the European and North-American cultures), and globally, it is generally associated with mysticism and beliefs that are not in keeping with the precepts of Islamism, Judaism and Christianity. Green, if used for the web site of a financial institution from the USA, will support the implication that the institution deals with the 'almighty green dollar', but it may bear no such significance in a country where bills (paper money) are multiple-coloured.

This can lead to a complete change of meanings, significances will be changed and negative implications will be at the very least diminished, if not eliminated altogether (e.g. red becomes more powerful when combined with white). It is up to you to obtain creative colours that will be internationally accepted, but you have to do your homework quite well.

Common Colours and Their Most Common Meanings

  • Red: energy, passion, excitement, power; also implies aggression, danger.
  • Blue: coolness, spirituality, freedom, patience, loyalty, peace, trustworthiness; can also imply sadness, depression.
  • Yellow: light, optimism, happiness, brightness, joy.
  • Green: life, naturalness, restfulness, health, wealth, prosperity; in certain contexts, can imply decay, toxicity.
  • Orange: friendliness, warmth, approachability, energy, playfulness, courage.
  • Violet: wisdom, sophistication, celebration.
  • White: purity, cleanliness, youth, freshness, peace.
  • Black: power, elegance, secrecy, mystery.
  • Gray: security, maturity, reliability.
  • Pink: romance a feminine colour.
  • Brown: comfort, strength, stability, credibility.

To conclude

Irrespective of the purpose of your website, whether it is for selling or not, the chromatic choice is of utmost importance. Playing with colours might turn out to be really fun, but one should be aware that every chromatic set suggests something else, an emotion, a social meaning; so, choose with care.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 January 2010 19:45
iComs Team

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