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Psychology of Colours in Web Design: Colour Perception

Psychology of Colours in Web Design: Colour Perception

Although you may have yet to research the psychology of colours in web design, you already know that specific colours bring different emotions and meanings.

The colours you love are usually an element that influences how you decorate your home and the clothes you put on and the vehicle you drive, or your favourite food items that you're attracted by.

Colour choice plays a significant role in marketing, branding, and web design. Colours can account for up to 15% of the reasons customers purchase from a brand. Colour can create or undermine trust in a brand, build or degrade customer loyalty, and shape 90% of a consumer's impression of a company's brand in less than 90 seconds.

If you are planning to create an initial website or revamp an old one, It shouldn't be a surprise that your web developer will ask you to provide your preferences for the colour scheme of your website.

Before you spit out an answer using your favourite colours, please go through our guidelines to make intelligent web design choices that are based on the psychology behind colour.

You may already know the meanings of popular colours. You may be attracted to blue when you're looking to relax, whereas some colours like orange may not be suitable to use in formal documents in business.

These characteristics help explain why specific colours are well-known in certain sectors. For instance, blue is one of the colours frequently used by banks, and red is advised for brands that deal with dating services. A customer visiting the website with a bright yellow colour to read about deep breathing and relaxation may need clarification, regardless of whether they can explain the reason.

Step 1: Take note of the meanings that go along with colours in web design

Psychology Of Colour

Think about the shared meanings that are associated with specific hues. What colours are you aware of? Which one surprised you?


Blue is known to reduce appetite, which is why the use of it on a food-related site could be a bit off-putting for people visiting the site. Many believe that the reason is that there aren't any everyday things with blue. Outside of food, blue is among the most sought-after colours among both genders. Since many naturally gravitate towards blue, companies often pick this colour to build trust or create confidence.


Yellow is playful and fun; however, it is vital to remember that it's also employed as a warning signal. It's a vibrant colour that increases the level of emotion and creates excitement for your customers when used in small quantities. Still, it gets abrasive and overwhelming when used in more significant quantities. For accent colours, yellow is a great way to emphasise an individual call to action.


Green is so strongly associated with nature and is eco-friendly that the colour alone could send an impression that a business is ethical. Additionally, green is getting more sought-after because it has the soothing characteristics of blue and the stimulating positive effects that yellow can bring. Some other common associations are money and growth, which makes green a popular option across many industries.


Orange is the latest black, also known as the red of the moment. However, it's not an easy colour to deal with. Although it's popular with children, most adults prefer it or don't. Therefore, incorporating it into your site targeted toward adult customers should be handled carefully. Orange is associated with excitement, energy, and enthusiasm. It also evokes warmth. For certain businesses, this colour is a crucial factor in establishing your brand's personality and convincing customers to take action.


If you've heard of the expression “white space,” you might know the significance of the colour white in website design. White creates a sense of liberation, giving visitors to your website the breathing space needed to absorb the information you offer.

However, white also has a significant drawback: it can be eye-strain when pure white is combined with black and could be perceived as unnatural, harsh, or off-putting. A practical solution is to choose an off-white, such as ivory, which has the same benefits as white, but with a warmer hue that can be more soothing.


Black is definitely among the top widely employed colours, but you must be aware of it because it comes with various conflicting connections. For instance, it's an edgy colour. However, it's also formal and still traditional. If used in moderation, black can provide an earthy effect. However, it can quickly dominate your design if used too often.

The good thing is that white and black can have numerous, diverse shades between them, which means having darker and lighter tints will provide the same benefits, but with fewer negatives.


Red can trigger strong emotions because it's among the most evident shades within the spectrum. It is often associated with passion, love, and drama, but it can also represent the power of aggression, strength, or even anger. It is therefore recommended in minimal amounts.

Since it strongly encourages action, many web designers believe that it's the best choice for buttons and other calls to take action. The research doesn't necessarily back this argument. It shouldn't be the only option. In a prior blog post, we discussed our method of generating clear calls to action.


Like orange, purple could be polarising. It will probably draw female patrons but will immediately turn off male customers. Purple is a combination of the power of red and the stability of blue, contributing to its feeling of luxury and regal. It also signifies mysteriousness, creativity, or even wisdom. It's not advised for all professions; however, it may be the ideal option for a few.


Pink is associated with gender and is commonly utilised to signify femininity and softness. In lighter shades, it may appear delicate and fragile as a flower, while in darker shades, it may appear exuberant or even raucous. Similar to red, pink symbolises love. However, it's a gentler and more intimate affection than our intense love for red. This softness is a great fit for baby products and confectionery.


Brown is not the most popular colour used in web design. Women and men are not fond of it, and mixing it with other shades is difficult. Its positive attributes are reliability and toughness. However, it requires an eye for design to avoid it looking dull and dark.

A contemporary alternative to brown and pink, which has gained popularity in recent years, is blush. It is a particular shade of pink that is reminiscent of beige. Companies that cater to women, specifically women in their 20s and 30s, typically use blush instead of beige or tan as a neutral tone with lighter feminine hues.

Step 2: Take note of what colours you would recommend for your particular industry

Ikea Web Design Colour Psychology

Although your company's goal is probably not to be a part of your competitors, some shades are suited for specific industries (and other colours that could make your customers run away).

The most common colours used across industries are:

  • Blue: Science, medicine utilities, government medical and recruitment legal, dental information technology
  • Green: Science, medicine government, eco-friendly recruitment business, tourism, Human Resources, Finance
  • Black: Construction oil, finance, fashion manufacturing, cosmetics, mining, marketing
  • Grey: Automotive, journalism, sportswear, technology
  • Red: Fashion makeup, food, relationships, games on video retail automobile, hardware, video streaming
  • Orange: Drink, retail, and fitness
  • Yellow: Automotive, retail, food, technology, construction
  • Pink: medical (paediatrics and OBGYN), cosmetics, food, and retail

Although these trends shouldn't constrain your choices when choosing the colours you use for your site, they're trending for a reason. Most likely, your company's overall message is like that of your closest competitors and so picking a colour that's entirely off-colour for your particular industry may hurt (by conveying the wrong message to your customers) more than it can help (by creating a brand that stands above your competition).

Sometimes, breaking away from the norm of the market can pay off. Thinx is a company that makes period underwear and chooses an edgy colour scheme for its website, rather than the vibrant fuchsias and oranges typical for most female care companies.

It's because Thinx's customers aren't exclusively females – the target audience is “people with periods,” regardless of gender. While blush is technically still part of the pink category, it's a natural, warm tone that echoes the gender-neutrality Thinx's brand and reminds users that they are welcome regardless of whether they think of themselves as females. Since it resembles brown, it gently makes them aware of remembering that their products are eco-friendly.

Related:  UI and UX Design: Creating Intuitive Digital Experiences

A more mellow, sweeter pink shade would have been more conforming to the industry norms, but it could be a snare to a significant portion of the audience that Thinx could have. Take a moment to think about what makes your business apart from that in your industry, and consider how you could utilise colour to convey the uniqueness of your approach.

Step 3: Think about your ideal customer and their requirements.

Customer Success Stories Industry Leaders

The first step also provided information on colours preferred by both genders. Did you know there's done some very in-depth research on this topic? This is more than “women like purple and men don't.” There's an abundance of fascinating data about colour preferences and gender:

The most popular colour in the world is blue (with 57% of males and 35% of women stating that blue is their favourite colour).

The colours that men prefer are blue (57%) and green (14%), as well as black (9%) and red (7 7%). Less than 5% of men reported that their preferred colour is yellow, orange, grey, brown, or white. Similarly, only 1% of males said they preferred purple.

The most popular colours for women are blue (35%) and purple (23%), green (14%), as well as red (9%), and black (6%). Less than 5% of women reported that yellow, orange, grey, brown, and white were their preferred colours.

Both genders agree that brown and orange are among the most disliked colours for both genders in the world, with 22% of males and 33% of women detesting orange. Likewise, 27% of males and 20% of women dislike brown.

The consensus is that men prefer bright colours while women like soft shades.

However, your ideal customer is defined far beyond gender. Colour psychology is also a factor in age, class education, and climate data.

Children of young age prefer brighter shades of yellow, red, green, blue, orange, and purple. Also, they prefer solid colour blocks instead of patterns.

Teenagers prefer black and are more open to advanced colours and graphics than their younger counterparts.

Most adults favour subdued colours, and their colour preferences are etched in stone.

Adults over 65 dislike yellow and prefer pink, blue, and green. They tend to favour calmer shades over vibrant stimulants, and purple is more popular with women as they age.

The middle class is likelier to choose brighter variations of primary and secondary shades. However, wealthy people tend to favour more intricate colours, typically choosing tertiary colours with various shades.

The more educated a person is, the higher-end their colour preferences typically are. People with higher education tend to favour primary and secondary colours, while less educated individuals favour more primary or secondary hues.

People generally choose colours that resemble the hues associated with their climate. People living in tropical climates are most attracted by warmer, bright shades, while those from colder climates prefer muted hues.

In Western culture, white represents purity and cleanliness. Therefore, it is frequently utilised in weddings and hospitals. However, white represents sadness and loss in Eastern societies and is frequently utilised in funeral ceremonies.

Now you can mix your preferences for colours, the emotional significance that colours carry, and the colours commonly used in your field and those of the intended population to create a detailed profile. This is good for those hesitant to mix with your competitors. Though your company is in the same sector, the particular characteristics of your market could result in some distinctions between your businesses.

Step 4: Keep in mind that what is more important than the colours you select is the way you mix them

Split Complementary Colour Scheme Generator

The bottom line is that two websites that employ white and blue as their primary colours may appear and function differently. Colour psychology is more than choosing the colour you'd like to promote your brand. It's about the colour scheme, white spaces, and the strategic placement of specific colours. This gives you a wide range of options even when using the same colour.

Many web designers recommend that every website includes, at the very least, a background colour, an accent colour, and the accent colour. They also advocate the 60-30-10 rule. This is where you select three colours and apply one of them 60% times a day (as the predominant) and another 30% to 30% (as an additional) as well as the final 10% the majority of times (the accent).

We typically employ one colour for accents. This helps us make our designs more visually appealing and keeps the attention of your visitors on what we want them to focus on, that is, on your strategically placed calls to take action.

Concerning calls to action, how you use colours affects how visitors interact with your website. Bright colours, like green, orange and red, usually get the most attention; however, according to your website's colour scheme, a different colour might give better contrast – which is essential in attracting attention.

Suppose you recall high school when you were using the colour wheel. In that case, you might remember how you can create all sorts of emotions by combining them with different hues (if you need clarification on the colour wheel, you can check out Adobe's no-cost colour wheel palette generator to get an easy refresher). In no time, you'll have a myriad of colours to choose from, even after choosing the base colour.

When we add factors such as the amount of white space and the hues, tints, shadows, and shades, the result is that one site with red, white, and black appears different from one with a similar colour scheme. This is before we begin discussing how the site layout is designed! 

A few last thoughts

There's something more than just choosing colours that you love. Using colour psychology to know your customers' preferences could be helpful when you continue promoting them.

If you're overwhelmed by all the choices to choose from, consider these essential factors:

It is important to remember that colour perception is subjective. While broad messages are reflected in how people see the colour spectrum, much is based on individual experiences. The fact that the data suggest specific colours for your intended market doesn't mean it's the most reliable choice.

If you have a logo and the colours you'd like to keep, you can still use the psychology of colour to your advantage without completely changing your branding. Adding different call-to-actions and changing the size of the white spaces on your site will make a big difference.

Ultimately, it doesn't come down to the particular colours you pick. Although colours have meanings, and some people have different preferences, the most crucial aspect is how the user feels about the colour's connection to the brand. The colour you choose can trigger emotions that don't relate to your brand. This could be as offensive for customers as their most minor preferred colours.

Of course, following your intuition is always possible, especially in business. If most research advises you to pick the wrong colour for your brand, follow your intuition. You might be amazed by the way your customers' perceptions of you could be. And when you pick colours, colours, and branding strategies you can be confident about, your customers will be able to discern.

Colours can set a particular mood or impression on a web page. If a website's colours give an impression that it needs to be corrected, it will cause significant bounce rates since the website will appear inexperienced and lack professionalism or trustworthiness. If it is a positive impression, it lets the users feel confident that the website is reliable and aware of its niche. It's no wonder the psychology behind colour will be a constant issue for web developers.

Utilise these tools for colour schemes to receive assistance in creating colour schemes and palettes. Try out how great each colour appears. Be aware of the psychology behind colour and select shades that appeal to your audience. Proper colour selection can increase the conversion rate.

The world is becoming smaller and more multifaceted. Be aware that the colours of cultures differ. The positive colour that one culture views may be considered harmful in another. For example, white is considered a symbol of death in China, and the identical colour is worn when a bride is married in Christian countries. Purple is considered feminine in many countries, but it is also associated with a symbol of death in Brazil. Therefore, you must consider the entire spectrum of your target customer base to find the right colour combination for your potential customers.

Author Bio: Emma Flores is lucky enough to turn her interests into a job. Editor and proofreader on working days, a freelance writer at weekends, and a mother all the time. She is at her most when she runs in the morning with headphones on. Emma is working with StudyCrumb to offer tips on writing academic papers that are of high-quality standards.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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4 thoughts on “Psychology of Colours in Web Design: Colour Perception”

  1. Fascinating topic, but its usefulness was blunted by a need for editing (errors and confusion highlighted in double brackets):

    “The more educated a person is, the higher-end their colour preferences typically are. {{People with higher education tend to favour primary and secondary colours, while less educated individuals favour more primary or secondary hues.}}”

    “Many web designers recommend that every website includes, at the very least, a background colour, {{an accent colour, and the accent colour.}} ….. you select three colours and apply one of them {{60% times a day}} (as the predominant) and another {{30% to 30%}} (as an additional) as well as the final 10% the majority of times (the accent).”

    “And when you pick {{colours, colours,}} and branding strategies you can be confident about, your customers will be able to discern.”

    What should they say instead?

  2. HI Emma, This paragraph was very confusing: “Many web designers recommend that every website includes, at the very least, a background colour, an accent colour, and the accent colour. They also advocate the 60-30-10 rule. This is where you select three colours and apply one of them 60% times a day (as the predominant) and another 30% to 30% (as an additional) as well as the final 10% the majority of times (the accent).

  3. I was excited to read this article until it started talking about two genders. There are way more than two genders and you should be more careful when referencing such in your articles.


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