Colors and User Experience
After being away for nearly three months I decided to finally bring my blog back to life. A few weeks ago when I was working on a website related with traveling a colleague of mine asked “What’s the color for traveling?”. Although I can’t remember the answer to this question I remember another question that came up: “Why is choosing the right color(s) so important and how it affects our experience while navigating through the web?”.
After doing some research and some questions I realized that this color issue is a matter of much more importance. Colors carry a psychological meaning that interferes with our behavior and feelings: colors are able give us a sensation of peace, joy, sadness, cold, hot, etc.
But what this have to do with the colors I choose for my website? I just want it to look great!”.
Imagine that you own a site for selling baby stuff and that your designer comes up with a fabulous design with a color scheme involving black and purple, for example. In spite of being fabulous you wouldn’t want to pick that design for your site, because black and purple are colors that people usually associate with death not with life! So by choosing that design, more specifically that color scheme, you would be passing the wrong emotions to your users, what would lead them to confusion and not trusting your site. So by choosing the right colors you can transmit emotions to users. Emotions that relate to your business, that are convenient for you, etc.
Also through colors you can also transmit a message to your users. Imagine that you choose for your baby stuff website the colors blue, red and yellow. It’s not a very good combination, and the first thing users may think when they go to your website is “This site is so amateurish that I don’t know if I trust these guys…” or “This site is so ridiculous! No way I’m gonna buy these guys something!”.
By now you may already have noticed that all goes down to TRUST. By choosing the right colors (and of course, making a good design) you can make your users trust you.
Another important aspect of colors is that they affect the usability of your website. In terms of readability, if you choose the wrong contrast between the background and your text users won’t be able to read it. Also if you want to emphasize some important section/information on your website you can do it by choosing a color that highlights the content.
For more information about:
Color Psychology: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/colors1.html
Website Coloring: http://www.digital-web.com/articles/the_red_queen_color_theory/
Colors in different cultures: http://www.office.xerox.com/small-business/tips/color-guide/enus.html (see comment by Bruno Figueiredo)