Colour wields enormous sway over our attitudes and emotions, which is a powerful tool when it comes to eCommerce web design. While most of us know how to pair colours in everyday life, from decorating our homes to pairing an outfit – when it comes to colours in web design, it seems there’s a specific psychology to it all.
What is Colour Psychology?
Colour psychology is the science of how colour affects the human brain, the decisions we make and conclusions we draw from our exposure to it. In the world of eCommerce web design, even a basic understanding of the psychology of colour is vitally important. This could mean asking yourself:
- How does gender play a role in colour choice?
- What colours match the tone of your product/business?
- What associations already exist with certain colours?
Playing the Gender Game: Colour Tips That Improve Conversion
In a survey on colour and gender, 35% of women said blue was their favourite colour, followed by purple (23%) and green (14%). On the flip side, 33% of women confessed that orange was their least favourite colour, followed by brown (33%) and grey (17%).
It’s clear from this study and the colour chart below that women have an aversion to earthy, neutral tones and a preference for primary colours with tints.
Generally speaking, women dislike colours such as orange, brown and grey. They much prefer more vibrant colours like blues, purples and greens.
As a case study, we looked at beauty brand Neutrogena. As a brand almost totally aimed at the female market, they’ve learnt what women’s colour preferences are, using purples, greens, and blues predominately as accent colours on their website design palette and also in terms of their individual product colourings.
However, while this may be on trend, there are plenty of female brands out there who haven’t so strictly adhered to this colour regime.
Sometimes the product brand, tone and message don’t comply with typically favourite female colours. Beauty brand Bare Minerals have used distinct earthy, neutral tones to construct their website identity, selecting different shades of brown, beige and white.
However, in defence of their colour choices, a strong, bold choice of colour on their site would be in contrast to the pure, natural basis that is behind the mineral makeup message that they offer.
It doesn’t seem to matter to them and their popularity, they’re still major players and a well-known brand in the female beauty industry.
Moving on! Men’s dislike colours such as purple, brown and orange. However, men love colours like black, green and blue.
With favourites like black, green and blue traditionally associated with the male consumer market, it comes as a slight surprise to some that brown isn’t a favourite pick!
When it comes to male fashion brands like Diesel, they’ve really utilised the favoured male palette, as their site is strong with accents of blue, black and white. They’ve rolled this brand colouring out across not just their website design, but also in the colour of the fabrics they’ve used in their clothing.
The vibe is exclusively masculine and focused. Other brands who have achieved a similar colour brief are Ralph Lauren for men.
General Principles of Colour
When it comes to colour application in general, it’s often the case that they’ve been so associated with certain types of behaviour, situations and environments that when we see them outside of their normal realms, we still make the same colour connections. Below is a comprehensive list of current colour associations which helps us to understand why certain brands and businesses have chosen to use them.
Blue = Trust
Sites like NHS Choices that give medical advice, naturally attracting vulnerable, worried or concerned people who are seeking reliable, informed medical advice. As expected, blue is a colour that is strongly associated with health and medicine in our society, which is the same for the colour green.
Also, blue is a colour used in the corporate world, a colour associated with being non-invasive. Brands that deal with money and security like PayPal use the colour, as do the Conservative party, a political party tied to societal tradition.
Yellow = Playfulness and Wisdom
Traditionally when we think of yellow we think of warning signs, traffic lights and wet floor notices. However, there is another side to yellow that is being used in branding that is one of playfulness and fun. Post-It use a strong accent yellow in their branding. They’re a company related to education/academia, but one that has a distinctly playful edge to its branding.
However, as well in business, there is a strong masculine edge to the colour yellow, which is promoted by brands like Caterpillar, who manufacture construction machinery.
Green = Environment / Health / Wealth
Green is often the colour of the outdoors, eco-friendly, nature, and the environment. Green essentially is a chromatic symbol for nature itself. It’s used frequently in web design for sites that sell vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies and healthy foods, much like the Whole Foods Marketsite featured below. The site’s connection to natural, clean, unrefined eating is clear due to its use of green, which has been utilised in all its shades.
Red = Danger / Excitement
The use of red when it comes to web design is arguably the most diverse, outside of web marketing it’s attributed to love, desire and affection. However, when a brand like Ferrari adopt it, it serves more of a purpose to inspire thrill, excitement and even danger due to the type of product they sell – fast cars!
As well as car brands like Ferrari, Honda and Toyota, fast-food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Coca-Cola all use red in their branding – interesting!
Orange = Vibrant / Cheap / Exciting
The colour orange has often been claimed to create a sense of anxiety in online buyers that can draw impulsive shopper and window shoppers to make a purchase, which is perfect for online eCommere business, Amazon, who sell millions, potentially billions of products worldwide, this brand colour is distinctive, drawing the buyer in.
The vibrancy of the colour is also said to evoke an energetic happiness that is infectious to the online shopper. Win-Win!
Kids and Colour
When it comes to a web design colour scheme for kids, it’s usually a little more straightforward. Marketing for boys and girls is almost exclusively gender binary – pinks and purples for girls, blues and greens for boys. However, as society starts to question these types of gender-driven colour associations, the general principles to follow for kids marketing is pioneered by LEGO.
The recently updated LEGO site uses powerful and punchy colours, drawing on a wide palette of colours, not afraid to mix, blue, orange, red, yellow, pink and purple across its site. Bright colours attract small children and by incorporating all ‘male’ and ‘female’ colours they’ve catered for everyone.
Fast food chain, McDonald’s, also chooses high-energy colours like red and yellow which are the two colours most appealing to children, which help to kindle appetites and create a sense of urgency. Of course, Ronald McDonald himself is popular with the kids.
Following a few of these colour principles, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect colour scheme for your business. It’s about creating the right tone and message for your brand, striking a balance between what works for you and your consumer.
Do you need help choosing the right colour palette for your eCommerce site? Get in touch, we’re here to advise you!