09 Jul 2012
A Trip Around the Color Wheel (design edition) 1

A Trip Around the Color Wheel (design edition)

A Trip Around the Color Wheel (design edition) 2

The psychological effects of color are bizarre, intriguing and downright inexplicable most of the time. For instance, people are more relaxed in green rooms. Weightlifters max out higher in blue gyms. Red is often used in restaurants because it is an appetite stimulant. These findings may seem completely arbitrary, but researchers attest to their accuracy.

When designing graphics, here are a few characteristics of color that should be taken into account:

  • Colors have an effect on our emotions within 90 seconds of viewing.
  • Colors not only intensify an item, they influence our behavior.
  • Color choices can persuade prospective customers to buy from you.
  • Color choices can send specific messages (albeit subliminal) to your viewers.
  • The effect of colors differs among different cultures.

Having examined these factoids, it’s time to take a little tour with us around the color wheel to see which emotions and qualities can be triggered by each.

White. Clean, pure, simple, contemporary. Each of these words could be considered a quality of modern design, which is exactly what a website should aim for. Great for backgrounds, too.

Black. Jumping to the other end of the spectrum, black is often associated with power, elegance, death, evil and mystery. It’s the ideal choice for text, but is hard on the eyes when used as a background. Also the color of black holes…theoretically.

Red. Always the attention grabber, red suggests strength, passion and danger. It’s associated with debt in business (you don’t want to be “in the red”). Being the most emotionally intense color, it has the ability to stimulate a faster heartbeat and breathing. Yes, the color of blood makes your blood move faster. Strange.

Green. The color of nature is also associated with health, freedom, growth and wealth (greed when taken too far). Always easy on the eyes, green is a soothing color that, as mentioned, is used in “green rooms” to help those who are about to go onstage relax. Just don’t tell that to Snoop Dogg.

Blue. Ever the popular choice, blue suggests coolness, security, reliability and dignity. The color of the sky and sea is also considered to be masculine, according to studies. Unlike red, blue actually suppresses appetites and, therefore, is not recommended for promoting food. Corporate America likes it, though.

Yellow. Ah, the color of the sun. Yellow promotes warmth, happiness and optimism. Despite these positive characteristics, people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow surroundings. Example: babies cry more in yellow rooms. New parents, you’re welcome.

Purple. Favored by the artistic, purple suggests royalty, luxury and sophistication. It is also considered to be feminine and romantic. Like other colors that are rare in nature (blue and black, for instance), it can suggest artificiality. Great for promoting plastic surgeons.

Orange. Smack dab in the middle of red and yellow, orange tends to borrow each color’s attributes while also being associated creativity. Highly visible, it is optimal for highlighting important elements of text and design. Just don’t go overboard with it. May burn a few retinas.

Gray. Earnest, practical, conservative – all kinder words than “boring”.

While the effects of certain colors may influence the way you do things (you may already plan on painting your home gym blue), it’s also important to consider what color schemes work best for your brand and its website. Some colors will represent your brand better than others. Some will help make your site more readable. Do your homework and determine what makes your brand shine the brightest.