The Psychology of Website Colors

Websites are designed and styled the way they are for a reason, not simply because a few graphic designers thought it “looked cool ” No, they are designed to draw you in, to get you to perform whatever action/product/service it advertises. Website design has become a game of psychology, and how they can lure viewers in and gain their money.

Do you know what? It works.

One of the biggest non-Jedi mind tricks used (and there are many) is color. Blue creates a feeling of safety and stability. Green can denote peace and tranquility. Red creates feelings of urgency, warning, immediate action, or to steal attraction from something else. Shades of white looks cool and exciting, while black can symbolize power and strength but also darkness and negativity. How many times have you experienced these feelings when viewing a website? I admit, I am guilty. I am also guilty of using some of these “tricks” myself. On my LEGO Racers Custom Audio tutorial, for example, I use red text to denote an error message you may receive. Look at the sites you commonly visit. I visit GitHub often, and they have a white themed site suggesting coolness, as does the most recent Twitter redesign. jQuery uses blue, a sign that by using it you can be assured the JavaScript will (usually) work safely across browsers. OK, that is stretching the definition a bit, but you get the point.

WordPress.com, like other sites, has a color scheme they use The dashboard is predominantly light gray, the navigation bar is dark, the text area is white, with small blue areas highlighting key aspects.

WordPress.com dashboard post drafting

As you can see, the dashboard is relatively simple. The dark navigation bar suggests powerful settings hidden in its categories, the white and light gray provides a clean writing area, a small red link gives a warning about what will happen if I click “Move to Trash”, all the while the Publish button and currently selected category are highlighted blue. While admittedly there is other design psychology in play, the colors alone provide visual clues of the current state of the dashboard. One could open a post and by merely glancing around they could draft, publish, or delete it because of the clever use of colors WordPress.com designers has so carefully chosen.

I have written a whole post on how colors can affect a visitors reaction to a website, and visual design is my weak spot. That means I have inadvertently written this post as a nudge for myself to start improving my designer senses, considering I am in technical college for a Website design and development degree. 😛

This post may or may not have been written in response to my accidentally and prematurely publishing two posts in the last few days, with one of them being caused by inadvertently clicking the big blue Publish button WordPress.com strategically colored… 😛

-le717

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