Web designers often face the dilemma of choosing a color for their clients’ web pages. If a business owner or professional knows a bit about web designing and chooses to opt for one of those build-your-own-website services, they will still encounter the dilemma of choosing the right color combination. What seems to be an easy task is not so easy after all, and building a website with the right color seems like a herculean task.
Psychology behind Choice of Website Colors
We must first understand that website is a visual medium and it is easy to get attracted or put off by the way it appears than the content that is published. In fact, what is published is of secondary importance and how it looks is of primary importance. This may remind us of the Gestalt principle, which states that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When we see the picture of a tree, we do not understand it by its different parts (leaves, branches, bark, stem, flowers, and seeds). Instead, we perceive it as a short tree, attractive tree, tall tree, huge tree or a weird looking tree. Likewise, a website is perceived to be either attractive, boring, confusing or any of the other various adjectives we might use to describe a website with. Thus, a website’s aesthetics and the colors that a designer uses are very importance.
Choosing the Right Color for Your Website
The procedure for choosing the right color is akin to choosing the right business suit to wear. There is never a right way to do it, and there is never that perfect suit. When it comes to choosing the right color combination for a website, a basic understand of color psychology is very important.
Action Colors and Passive Colors
In a thought provoking post titled “What’s the BEST color for high conversions”, Derek Halpern writes that there are two kinds of colors. Colors can be categorized under passive colors and action colors. Passive colors are those that form the background, text and other features in a website, which do not require a user to take action. An action color on the other hand directs a user to take action. This action may come in the form of clicking on a link, click on a button, sharing a quote or purchasing a service or product. He reiterates that action colors need to be uniform across a website.
For instance, a website that chooses white and black background and text should consistently use a color like purple to indicate that it is a clickable area. If purple is chosen as an action color, it should not be sued anywhere else within a website where a user cannot click. Thus, an action color (no matter which color you choose) has to remain consistent across a particular website and it should not have a passive role anywhere on the website. This way, we train a user to take action wherever he sees that color.
An action color can be any color that you want it to be. There are no hard and fast rules but it is always good to choose a color that stands apart from the rest of the passive colors on your website. Taking about passive colors, you might want to know how you can choose the best passive colors for your website.
Choosing the Right Passive Color
A long held tradition has been to choose colors that resemble your logo. For instance, if your logo has blue and white, it is a good idea to use blue background and white text, or vice versa. You may also choose to have blue & white background and black text. The key is to bring in a harmony across the website so that the website is easy on the visitor’s eyes. Again, the colors depend upon your target audience. Bright and solid colors for men, pastel and soft colors for women are usually the norm. Older people prefer colors that are subtle, and younger people prefer colors that are bright and flashy. Thus, taking into account your target audience’s demographic details is very important.
Before making important design related decisions, it is wise to define the purpose of the website, the target audience and what your passive and action colors are going to be. Once these protocols are worked upon, it becomes easier to choose the best colors for your website.