Colour Psychology in Web Design

Sales people the world over have managed to convince us to part with our hard earned money time and time again. But have you ever wondered how they managed it?

One such technique is the use of colour. Believe it or not, different colours provoke strange psychological reactions within all of us, whether you are aware of them or not.

The beauty of this discovery for many businesses is that this technique can be applied across all our business communications, and it can be especially useful when it comes to designing your website.

Lets take a closer look at some of the key colour choices and what they mean to our subconscious.


Authority. Power. Stability. Strength.

Black also happens to be associated with intelligence – hence the black robes at graduation ceremonies.

Had you noticed that Black makes people look thinner?

Of course black is also a somber colour that is often associated with evil, and in the West it is also a colour of grieving.

This is a serious colour that evokes strong and bold emotions. It can be a strong call to action, yet over-used can easily overwhelm people.


Purity. Cleanliness. Safety.

It is used to project the absence of colour, and screams neutrality.

In some parts of the world white is the colour of mourning, but in the West it is closely related to learning and creativity (think white boards in classrooms).

It is a compression of all the colours of the colour spectrum.


Practical. Timeless. Middle-of-the-road. Solid.

Too much gray leads to empty feelings, but smaller amount give your product that solid edge.

Some shades are associated with old age, death, taxes and a lost sense of direction. Silver, an offshoot of gray, is often associated with providing a helping hand and being strong in character.


Attention. Energy. Movement. Excitement.

Red makes the heart beat faster. It can also make you feel short of breath. You wouldn’t decorate a nursery in red, but if you wanted to get people excited you would cover the walls in the stuff.

Red is terrible when overused, but in small well-planned doses grabs the attention and increases excitement.

Red is the symbol of life – think Red Cross – and it is a symbol of love and giving such as red roses, valentines day and Christmas, etc. The true colour of love however is Pink, a shade of red, the most calming of all colours.


Most peoples favorite colour, and a colour that causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming. Of course, not all shades of blue have this effect.

Some shades can shout a cold and uncaring message, although the colour is linked to steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty.

Productivity is often increased by working in a blue room due to its calming tone and allows people to focus clearly.


Growth. Nature. Money.

Green is a calming colour and is extremely pleasing to the senses.

Deep shades of green can be associated with terms such as conservative, masculine and wealth.

Green can also be associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility.

It is the traditional colour of peace, harmony, nurturing, support and steady energy.


The colour of the sun. Laughter. Happiness. Good times.

Yellow brings the feeling of optimism by stimulating the brain to release more serotonin. Yellow is associated with optimism but should be used wisely, as when intense in colour it is the colour of flames that can flare tempers.

Yellow can encourage creativity, it can be overpowering when over-used, but can also be an effective marketing tool as Yellow is linked with the promise of better times.


Flamboyant. Fun. Happy. Energetic. Warmth. Organic.

This colour is associated with ambition. This is definitely NOT a calming colour. It is associated most with a new dawn in attitude.


Wealth. Prosperity. Sophistication.

This colour stimulates brain activity and is associated with problem solving.

When overused Purple can be viewed as artificial, but used carefully can lend an air of mystery, wisdom and respect.

Young females often choose shades of purple as their favorite colour.


Reliability. Stability. Friendship.

Brown appears to be most peoples favorite colour in general. Brown is the colour of the earth itself. It represents nature and organic views.

Be careful of your use in some areas of the world, as for example in India it is the colour of mourning.

How to use colours together

The psychology of colour is a complicated field of study but there are some key basics that will allow you to make good choices based around designing a website with a specific aim in mind.

Monochrome Schemes: The true use of a single colour using varying shades. This is a clean and interesting look for a website, is soothing and pleasing to the eye.

Complimentary Schemes: Use of high contrast colours by selecting colours directly opposite from one another on the colour wheel. Warm colours are placed with cool colours and appear pleasing to the eye.

Triple Schemes: The use of three colours equally space from each other around the colour wheel. This is a popular scheme with web designers as it allows for a harmonious colour scheme.


Colour is the first thing that registers with your website visitors. If they find your colours pleasing they are more likely to read on, if not then they are likely to leave within seconds.

First select your background colour and build the remainder of your colour scheme around it, remembering to keep in mind the meaning of and harmony between colours.

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