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Complete Guide To Color Psychology In Web Design

Complete Guide To Color Psychology In Web Design

Jan 19, 2024

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14 min read

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Complete Guide To Color Psychology In Web Design
Complete Guide To Color Psychology In Web Design
Complete Guide To Color Psychology In Web Design

Introduction


Would you ever wear yellow to a funeral? Probably not.


But why is that? At the end of the day, it’s a color like every other.


choosing black over yellow


Well, actually, colors are way more important than most people realise. They have the power to evoke emotions, convey messages, and, when it comes to web design, shape the user experience.


That’s why understanding the psychological impact of colors is crucial for creating a high-quality website.


In this complete guide, you’ll learn the psychology behind colors and how to use them to provoke certain emotions in your users.


Red


Red is a highly stimulating and attention-grabbing color that can evoke a wide range of psychological effects. It is often associated with strong emotions such as passion, love, anger, and danger.


In web design, red is often used to grab attention, create urgency, and evoke feelings of warmth and enthusiasm. Its characteristics make it an optimal choice for CTAs and error messages.


When it comes to branding, red is definitely a bold choice, as it’s destined to get noticed and be remembered. Some famous brands that have successfully used red are CNN, Netflix, Coca-Cola, Marvel, and Lego.


Positive effects of red:

  • Passion & Love

    → Red is commonly associated with love and passion, evoking warm and romantic feelings. It is often used to express affection and desire (think about heart emojis or roses).


  • Energy & Vitality

    → Red is vibrant and energetic, symbolising vitality, courage, and determination. It can convey a sense of strength and vigor.


  • Attention-grabbing & Alertness

    → Red is highly attention-grabbing, making it effective for signaling importance or urgency. It enhances alertness and draws focus to specific elements.


Negative effects of red:

  • Aggression & Anger

    → The intensity of red is often linked to aggression and anger. It can evoke strong emotions and create a sense of tension or hostility.


  • Danger & Warning

    → Red is widely used in warning signs and symbols to indicate danger. Its association with stop signs reinforces the idea of caution and potential harm.


  • Overstimulation & Stress

    → The intensity of red, especially in specific contexts, can be overwhelming and lead to overstimulation. This may result in increased stress levels and a general feeling of discomfort.


Example of website using red - Netfilx


Orange


Orange is a warm, energetic color that promotes feelings of optimism, creativity, and excitement. It's often associated with food (think about the homonymous fruit), nature, and sunshine.


This cheerful color is often used by brands to target newer generations. Think about Nickelodeon, Fanta, and McDonald’s.


Yet, the color also has some negative associations like superficiality and immaturity.


Positive effects of orange:

  • Warmth & Comfort

    → Orange is often associated with warmth and comfort. It has a friendly and inviting quality, creating a positive and cosy atmosphere.


  • Energy & Enthusiasm

    → Orange is a vibrant and energetic color, symbolising enthusiasm and excitement. It can boost mood and convey a sense of vitality and optimism.


  • Creativity & Playfulness

    → Orange is considered a creative and playful color. It can stimulate creativity and is often associated with a lighthearted, fun, and adventurous spirit.


Negative effects of orange

  • Caution & Warning

    → In some contexts, orange can be associated with caution and warning, similarly to red. For example, orange traffic cones indicate construction or potential hazards.


  • Overstimulation & Distraction

    → The bright and intense nature of orange can lead to overstimulation in certain environments. It may be distracting and overwhelming, especially in large doses.


  • Immaturity & Superficiality

    → In some contexts, orange may be associated with immaturity or superficiality. It can be perceived as less serious than other colors, potentially impacting the perceived depth of a message or environment.


Example of a website using orange - Nickelodeon


Yellow


Yellow is the color of sunshine, happiness, and optimism. It’s often associated with excitement, creativity, and energy.


Children usually like yellow, and that’s why designers often use bright shades to appeal to a young audience.


While yellow's vibrant tones appeal to a younger audience, its deeper shades appeal to an older one. That's because darker shades remind people of gold and its associations with wealth, richness, and abundance.


Yellow is also the most visible of all colors, especially against dark backgrounds.


Positive effects of yellow:

  • Positivity & Optimism

    → Yellow is often associated with positivity and optimism. It can convey a sense of brightness, cheerfulness, and a positive outlook on life.


  • Energy & Creativity

    → Yellow is a vibrant and energising color. It can stimulate mental activity, boost creativity, and contribute to a lively and dynamic atmosphere.


  • Warmth & Happiness

    → Yellow is a warm color that is commonly linked to feelings of happiness and joy. It can create a welcoming and friendly environment.


Negative effects of yellow:

  • Caution & Warning

    → In certain contexts, yellow can be associated with caution and warning, similar to red and orange. For example, yellow traffic lights signal the need for caution and readiness to stop.


  • Anxiety & Irritability

    → The intensity of bright yellow may, in some cases, contribute to feelings of anxiety or irritability. (something that doesn’t happen with darker hues)


  • Insecurity & Cowardice

    → In some cultural contexts, yellow may be associated with traits like insecurity or cowardice. Phrases like “yellow-bellied” reflect this negative connotation.


Example of a website using yellow - Snapchat


Green


Green is the color of nature, growth, and harmony. It’s often associated with freshness, peace, and relaxation. This calming color can be used in web design to create a sense of spaciousness, security, and tranquility.


Green is often used in websites that promote health, wellness, or environmental consciousness.


When used in money-related contexts, green can also symbolise wealth, abundance, and growth.


Positive effects of green:

  • Nature & Tranquility

    → Green is strongly associated with nature, plants, and the outdoors. It has a deeply calming effect, evoking feelings of tranquility and connection to the natural world.


  • Balance & Harmony

    → Green is often seen as a color of balance and harmony. It is restful for the eyes and can promote a sense of equilibrium and stability.


  • Growth & Prosperity

    → Green is often chosen to convey a sense of renewal and growth in various aspects, including wealth and business.


Negative effects of green:

  • Envy & Jealousy

    → In some cultural contexts, green is associated with envy and jealousy. Just think about phrases like “green with envy”.


  • Sickness & Toxicity

    → While green is generally associated with health, it can also be associated with sickness and toxicity.


  • Selfishness & Greediness

    → Green can also be sometimes associated with materialism, selfishness, and greediness.


Example of a website using green - Wise


Blue


Blue is the color of trust, peace, and tranquility. It’s often associated with intelligence, logic, and serenity.


Blue is a popular choice among corporate websites and brands because it conveys a sense of reliability and trust. Think about big companies like HP, Ford, Oral-B, and Facebook.


Blue is another color that can often be found in nature (just like green), which is why it has such a calming effect on the user.


Blue is often considered a “safe choice”, as many surveys show that it's the most popular color across cultures.


However, depending on the context and shade, blue can also be perceived as cold, sad, reserved, or even impersonal.


Positive effects of blue:

  • Calmness & Serenity

    → Thanks to its association with nature, blue is often perceived as calming and relaxing.


  • Trust & Reliability

    → Blue is often linked to trustworthiness and reliability. It is a color commonly associated with professionalism, stability, and dependability.


  • Productivity & Focus

    → A calm mind can focus better on complicated problems. That’s why blue is often linked to productivity and focus.


Negative effects of blue:

  • Coldness & Sadness

    → In some contexts, blue can be associated with coldness or a sense of detachment. It is also linked to feelings of sadness or depression, as in the phrase “feeling blue”.


  • Aloofness & Rigidity

    → The coolness of blue can sometimes be perceived as aloof or rigid. In certain situations, it may convey a sense of formality that could be interpreted as unapproachable.


  • Conservative & Old-Fashioned

    → Blue can also be associated with conservatism and old-fashioned attitudes, potentially contributing to perceptions of stiffness or traditionalism.


Example of a website using blue - Intel


Purple


This is my personal favorite (as you can tell from my website).


Purple is the color of mystery, luxury, and sophistication. It’s often associated with royalty, creativity, and spirituality.


This unique color can be used in web design to create a sense of elegance, uniqueness, and intrigue.


Purple often represents wisdom and spirituality. That’s because it’s deeply rooted in religious symbolism and difficult to find in nature, contributing to a sense of mystery.


Positive effects of purple:

  • Royalty & Luxury

    → Purple has long been associated with royalty and luxury. Historically, it was a color reserved for monarchs, symbolising wealth, power, and nobility.


  • Wisdom & Spirituality

    → Purple is often linked to creativity and spirituality. It is considered a color that encourages imagination and introspection.


  • Mystery & Magic

    → Purple is sometimes associated with mystery, magic, and the unknown. It can be used to create a sense of intrigue and suspense.


Negative effects of purple:

  • Laziness & Timidity

    → Purple can also be associated with laziness, timidity, and lack of motivation. This is because it can have a calming and soothing effect.


  • Arrogance & Pride

    → The association of purple with royalty can lead to perceptions of arrogance or pretentiousness. It may be linked to an air of superiority or hubris.


  • Moodiness & Ambiguity

    → Purple, because it originates from blue and red, can sometimes convey moodiness or ambiguity. It may be seen as less straightforward than other colors, potentially leading to confusion or uncertainty.


Example of a website using purple - my portfolio


Pink


Pink is a delicate, feminine color that evokes feelings of warmth, affection, and romance. It’s often associated with femininity, cuteness, and nurturing.


Pink is often used in websites that want to target a feminine audience. Just think about Barbie, Kylie Cosmetics (the brand founded by Kylie Jenner), and Cosmopolitan.


However, pink can also be associated with being physically weak, over-emotional, or over-cautions.


On top of that, pink has also earned another negative connotation due to the term “pinkwashing”. A word used to describe the practice of showing support for LGBTQ+ rights (or breast cancer awareness) solely for advertising purposes.


Positive effects of pink:

  • Femininity & Tenderness

    → Pink is often associated with femininity and tenderness. It is a color that can convey a sense of nurturing, compassion, and warmth.


  • Innocence & Playfulness

    → Pink is linked to innocence and playfulness. It is commonly used in contexts related to childhood and is associated with a lighthearted, joyful atmosphere.


  • Romance & Affection

    → Pink is frequently associated with romance and affection. It is a softer expression of love than red and is often used to convey a sense of sweetness and care.


Negative effects of pink:

  • Stereotyping & Limited Scope

    → Pink can be associated with stereotypical gender norms, leading to perceptions of limited scope. Overuse of pink in specific contexts may reinforce gender stereotypes.


  • Vulnerability & Weakness

    → Pink, particularly in certain shades, may be linked to perceptions of vulnerability or weakness. It might be associated with a lack of strength or resilience in certain contexts.


  • Dependency & Submissiveness

    → Pink, especially in pastel shades, may be linked to perceptions of dependency or submissiveness. It might be associated with qualities that are perceived as passive.


Example of a website using pink - Kylie Cosmetics


Black


Note: I know that, technically speaking, black and white are not colors but shades. However, for the scope of this article, I’ll still treat them as colors as they have their own psychological effects on users.


Black is a powerful, sophisticated color that evokes feelings of mystery, elegance, and authority. It’s often associated with power, formality, and sophistication.


Black is often used in fashion, luxury brands, and websites that want to project an aura of exclusivity and prestige.


However, too much black can be perceived as dull, oppressive, or even intimidating.


On top of that, it’s also not a great choice for health-related brands as, in most cultures, it’s associated with death and grief.


Positive effects of black:

  • Elegance & Sophistication

    → Black is often associated with elegance and sophistication. It is a classic and timeless color that can convey a sense of refinement and style.


  • Mystery & Authority

    → Black is linked to mystery and authority. It can create a sense of intrigue and is often used to convey a commanding and authoritative presence.


  • Formality & Timelessness

    → Black is a formal and timeless color. It is commonly chosen for formal wear and is associated with a sense of enduring style and simplicity.


Negative effects of black:

  • Grief & Mourning

    → Black is traditionally associated with death and grief in many cultures. It symbolises solemnity and is commonly worn at funerals.


  • Negativity & Intimidation

    → In certain contexts, black may be associated with negativity or intimidation. It can convey a sense of seriousness or even evoke feelings of fear or unease.


  • Coldness & Lack of Emotion

    → Black, when used excessively or in certain contexts, may be perceived as cold or lacking emotional warmth.


Example of a website using black - Uber


White


White is a clean, bright color that evokes feelings of purity, freshness, and simplicity. It’s often associated with cleanliness, sterility, and neutrality (think about hospitals).


White is often used in minimalist designs/websites to project a clean and professional image. Brands often use it to convey a sense of purity and innovation.


However, too much white (or a wrong use of it) can be perceived as cold, sterile, or even boring.


Positive effects of white:

  • Purity & Simplicity

    → White is often associated with purity, cleanliness, and simplicity. It can create a sense of openness, spaciousness, and airiness.


  • Peace & Tranquility

    → White can also evoke feelings of peace, tranquility, and calmness. It can make a space feel more spacious and serene.


  • Modernity & Minimalism

    → White is often associated with modernity and minimalism. It can create a sleek, sophisticated, and uncluttered look.


Negative effects of white:

  • Coldness & Sterility

    → In certain contexts, white may be associated with coldness or sterility. It can convey a clinical or impersonal feel, especially when used excessively.


  • Dullness & Monotony

    → Excessive use of white can make a space feel dull or monotonous.


  • Surrender & Isolation

    → White can also be associated with surrender and isolation. Just think about white’s association with the white flag.


Example of a website using white - Nike


Brown


Brown is a rustic, earthy color that evokes feelings of comfort, simplicity, and naturalness. It’s often associated with nature, rusticity, and stability.


Brown is often used in web design to project a sense of stability, reliability, and trustworthiness.


However, brown can also be perceived as dirty and dingy. In fact, research shows that brown is the second least popular color (just after orange), both for men and women.


Positive effects of brown:

  • Earthy & Natural

    → Brown is often associated with earthiness and the natural world. It conveys a warm, grounded feeling, bringing to mind soil, wood, and other elements of nature.


  • Stability & Reliability

    → Brown is linked to stability and reliability. It is a solid and dependable color that can create a sense of reassurance and trustworthiness.


  • Warmth & Comfort

    → Brown can evoke feelings of warmth and comfort. Just consider the difference between a cosy wooden cabin and a cold, white open space in a modern house.


Negative effects of brown:

  • Dullness & Blandness

    → In certain contexts, brown may be associated with dullness or blandness. It might be perceived as lacking vibrancy or excitement, depending on how and where it’s used (remember what I told you in the disclaimer section).


  • Old-fashioned & Outdated

    → Brown can be associated with an old-fashioned or outdated aesthetic, especially in certain shades. This may make it a poor choice for brands looking to convey a sense of modernity.


  • Dirtiness or Dinginess

    → Brown may evoke perceptions of dirtiness or dinginess when associated with certain textures or contexts.


Example of a website using brown - UPS


Limitations


Color psychology is definitely something you should consider when it comes to branding.


However, there’s a significant limitation often overlooked, and that is: “Color associations are not universal”.


That’s right, the meaning you assign to one color might not reflect what I associate with that same color.


Here’s a list of the major factors that come into play:

  1. Cultural Background

    → Did you know that red symbolizes good luck in China, Denmark, and Argentina, while it means bad luck in Germany, Nigeria, and Chad? That’s right; the same exact color has two opposite meanings based on our cultural background


  2. Genders

    → Plenty of studies have shown that males and females differ in their favorite colors. For instance, women tend to indicate a greater preference for warm colors, while men prefer cool colors.


  3. Age

    → Studies suggest that age also influences color preferences. For example, younger people often gravitate towards bolder, more energetic colors, while older adults tend to prefer softer, more calming hues.


  4. Context

    → The context in which we see a color can significantly impact its interpretation. A red heart might evoke feelings of love and passion, while a red stoplight signals caution and danger.


  5. Personal Experiences

    → Our personal experiences with colors can shape our perceptions of them. A positive encounter with a certain shade may create a favorable association, while a negative experience could result in a negative one.


  6. Shade

    → The specific shade of a color can further influence its associations and psychological effects. An example is the one presented in the "yellow" section. Children love brighter shades of yellow, while adults prefer darker shades.


Ultimately, performing user research is the key to finding the perfect color for your brand.


Factors influencing color psychology


FAQs

Q1 - What Is Color Psychology?


Color psychology is the study of how colors influence human behavior, emotions, and perceptions. It explores the psychological effects of different colors on individuals and how they can influence mood, emotions, and decisions.


Q2 - What Is The Most Relaxing Color?


Many studies have found that blue and green are often associated with calmness and relaxation. This is because these colors are easily found in nature and are therefore associated with a sense of peace and tranquility.


Q3 - What Color Makes You Happy?


Yellow is widely regarded as a cheerful and optimistic color. It's often associated with sunshine, warmth, and happiness. Its vibrant hue can stimulate positive emotions, lift moods, and evoke feelings of joy and contentment.


Q4 - What Color Makes You Sleepy?


Green and blue are often perceived as sleep-inducing colors. That's due to their association with nature, freshness, and the calming presence of forests and water.


Q5 - What Color Makes You Hungry?


Red is often associated with hunger and appetite. Big food chains have known this forever; just think about McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC…


Conclusion


Thank you for taking the time to read the whole article. I hope you found it helpful.


If you’ve found this article helpful, I kindly invite you to share it with a friend who might benefit from it!

Introduction


Would you ever wear yellow to a funeral? Probably not.


But why is that? At the end of the day, it’s a color like every other.


choosing black over yellow


Well, actually, colors are way more important than most people realise. They have the power to evoke emotions, convey messages, and, when it comes to web design, shape the user experience.


That’s why understanding the psychological impact of colors is crucial for creating a high-quality website.


In this complete guide, you’ll learn the psychology behind colors and how to use them to provoke certain emotions in your users.


Red


Red is a highly stimulating and attention-grabbing color that can evoke a wide range of psychological effects. It is often associated with strong emotions such as passion, love, anger, and danger.


In web design, red is often used to grab attention, create urgency, and evoke feelings of warmth and enthusiasm. Its characteristics make it an optimal choice for CTAs and error messages.


When it comes to branding, red is definitely a bold choice, as it’s destined to get noticed and be remembered. Some famous brands that have successfully used red are CNN, Netflix, Coca-Cola, Marvel, and Lego.


Positive effects of red:

  • Passion & Love

    → Red is commonly associated with love and passion, evoking warm and romantic feelings. It is often used to express affection and desire (think about heart emojis or roses).


  • Energy & Vitality

    → Red is vibrant and energetic, symbolising vitality, courage, and determination. It can convey a sense of strength and vigor.


  • Attention-grabbing & Alertness

    → Red is highly attention-grabbing, making it effective for signaling importance or urgency. It enhances alertness and draws focus to specific elements.


Negative effects of red:

  • Aggression & Anger

    → The intensity of red is often linked to aggression and anger. It can evoke strong emotions and create a sense of tension or hostility.


  • Danger & Warning

    → Red is widely used in warning signs and symbols to indicate danger. Its association with stop signs reinforces the idea of caution and potential harm.


  • Overstimulation & Stress

    → The intensity of red, especially in specific contexts, can be overwhelming and lead to overstimulation. This may result in increased stress levels and a general feeling of discomfort.


Example of website using red - Netfilx


Orange


Orange is a warm, energetic color that promotes feelings of optimism, creativity, and excitement. It's often associated with food (think about the homonymous fruit), nature, and sunshine.


This cheerful color is often used by brands to target newer generations. Think about Nickelodeon, Fanta, and McDonald’s.


Yet, the color also has some negative associations like superficiality and immaturity.


Positive effects of orange:

  • Warmth & Comfort

    → Orange is often associated with warmth and comfort. It has a friendly and inviting quality, creating a positive and cosy atmosphere.


  • Energy & Enthusiasm

    → Orange is a vibrant and energetic color, symbolising enthusiasm and excitement. It can boost mood and convey a sense of vitality and optimism.


  • Creativity & Playfulness

    → Orange is considered a creative and playful color. It can stimulate creativity and is often associated with a lighthearted, fun, and adventurous spirit.


Negative effects of orange

  • Caution & Warning

    → In some contexts, orange can be associated with caution and warning, similarly to red. For example, orange traffic cones indicate construction or potential hazards.


  • Overstimulation & Distraction

    → The bright and intense nature of orange can lead to overstimulation in certain environments. It may be distracting and overwhelming, especially in large doses.


  • Immaturity & Superficiality

    → In some contexts, orange may be associated with immaturity or superficiality. It can be perceived as less serious than other colors, potentially impacting the perceived depth of a message or environment.


Example of a website using orange - Nickelodeon


Yellow


Yellow is the color of sunshine, happiness, and optimism. It’s often associated with excitement, creativity, and energy.


Children usually like yellow, and that’s why designers often use bright shades to appeal to a young audience.


While yellow's vibrant tones appeal to a younger audience, its deeper shades appeal to an older one. That's because darker shades remind people of gold and its associations with wealth, richness, and abundance.


Yellow is also the most visible of all colors, especially against dark backgrounds.


Positive effects of yellow:

  • Positivity & Optimism

    → Yellow is often associated with positivity and optimism. It can convey a sense of brightness, cheerfulness, and a positive outlook on life.


  • Energy & Creativity

    → Yellow is a vibrant and energising color. It can stimulate mental activity, boost creativity, and contribute to a lively and dynamic atmosphere.


  • Warmth & Happiness

    → Yellow is a warm color that is commonly linked to feelings of happiness and joy. It can create a welcoming and friendly environment.


Negative effects of yellow:

  • Caution & Warning

    → In certain contexts, yellow can be associated with caution and warning, similar to red and orange. For example, yellow traffic lights signal the need for caution and readiness to stop.


  • Anxiety & Irritability

    → The intensity of bright yellow may, in some cases, contribute to feelings of anxiety or irritability. (something that doesn’t happen with darker hues)


  • Insecurity & Cowardice

    → In some cultural contexts, yellow may be associated with traits like insecurity or cowardice. Phrases like “yellow-bellied” reflect this negative connotation.


Example of a website using yellow - Snapchat


Green


Green is the color of nature, growth, and harmony. It’s often associated with freshness, peace, and relaxation. This calming color can be used in web design to create a sense of spaciousness, security, and tranquility.


Green is often used in websites that promote health, wellness, or environmental consciousness.


When used in money-related contexts, green can also symbolise wealth, abundance, and growth.


Positive effects of green:

  • Nature & Tranquility

    → Green is strongly associated with nature, plants, and the outdoors. It has a deeply calming effect, evoking feelings of tranquility and connection to the natural world.


  • Balance & Harmony

    → Green is often seen as a color of balance and harmony. It is restful for the eyes and can promote a sense of equilibrium and stability.


  • Growth & Prosperity

    → Green is often chosen to convey a sense of renewal and growth in various aspects, including wealth and business.


Negative effects of green:

  • Envy & Jealousy

    → In some cultural contexts, green is associated with envy and jealousy. Just think about phrases like “green with envy”.


  • Sickness & Toxicity

    → While green is generally associated with health, it can also be associated with sickness and toxicity.


  • Selfishness & Greediness

    → Green can also be sometimes associated with materialism, selfishness, and greediness.


Example of a website using green - Wise


Blue


Blue is the color of trust, peace, and tranquility. It’s often associated with intelligence, logic, and serenity.


Blue is a popular choice among corporate websites and brands because it conveys a sense of reliability and trust. Think about big companies like HP, Ford, Oral-B, and Facebook.


Blue is another color that can often be found in nature (just like green), which is why it has such a calming effect on the user.


Blue is often considered a “safe choice”, as many surveys show that it's the most popular color across cultures.


However, depending on the context and shade, blue can also be perceived as cold, sad, reserved, or even impersonal.


Positive effects of blue:

  • Calmness & Serenity

    → Thanks to its association with nature, blue is often perceived as calming and relaxing.


  • Trust & Reliability

    → Blue is often linked to trustworthiness and reliability. It is a color commonly associated with professionalism, stability, and dependability.


  • Productivity & Focus

    → A calm mind can focus better on complicated problems. That’s why blue is often linked to productivity and focus.


Negative effects of blue:

  • Coldness & Sadness

    → In some contexts, blue can be associated with coldness or a sense of detachment. It is also linked to feelings of sadness or depression, as in the phrase “feeling blue”.


  • Aloofness & Rigidity

    → The coolness of blue can sometimes be perceived as aloof or rigid. In certain situations, it may convey a sense of formality that could be interpreted as unapproachable.


  • Conservative & Old-Fashioned

    → Blue can also be associated with conservatism and old-fashioned attitudes, potentially contributing to perceptions of stiffness or traditionalism.


Example of a website using blue - Intel


Purple


This is my personal favorite (as you can tell from my website).


Purple is the color of mystery, luxury, and sophistication. It’s often associated with royalty, creativity, and spirituality.


This unique color can be used in web design to create a sense of elegance, uniqueness, and intrigue.


Purple often represents wisdom and spirituality. That’s because it’s deeply rooted in religious symbolism and difficult to find in nature, contributing to a sense of mystery.


Positive effects of purple:

  • Royalty & Luxury

    → Purple has long been associated with royalty and luxury. Historically, it was a color reserved for monarchs, symbolising wealth, power, and nobility.


  • Wisdom & Spirituality

    → Purple is often linked to creativity and spirituality. It is considered a color that encourages imagination and introspection.


  • Mystery & Magic

    → Purple is sometimes associated with mystery, magic, and the unknown. It can be used to create a sense of intrigue and suspense.


Negative effects of purple:

  • Laziness & Timidity

    → Purple can also be associated with laziness, timidity, and lack of motivation. This is because it can have a calming and soothing effect.


  • Arrogance & Pride

    → The association of purple with royalty can lead to perceptions of arrogance or pretentiousness. It may be linked to an air of superiority or hubris.


  • Moodiness & Ambiguity

    → Purple, because it originates from blue and red, can sometimes convey moodiness or ambiguity. It may be seen as less straightforward than other colors, potentially leading to confusion or uncertainty.


Example of a website using purple - my portfolio


Pink


Pink is a delicate, feminine color that evokes feelings of warmth, affection, and romance. It’s often associated with femininity, cuteness, and nurturing.


Pink is often used in websites that want to target a feminine audience. Just think about Barbie, Kylie Cosmetics (the brand founded by Kylie Jenner), and Cosmopolitan.


However, pink can also be associated with being physically weak, over-emotional, or over-cautions.


On top of that, pink has also earned another negative connotation due to the term “pinkwashing”. A word used to describe the practice of showing support for LGBTQ+ rights (or breast cancer awareness) solely for advertising purposes.


Positive effects of pink:

  • Femininity & Tenderness

    → Pink is often associated with femininity and tenderness. It is a color that can convey a sense of nurturing, compassion, and warmth.


  • Innocence & Playfulness

    → Pink is linked to innocence and playfulness. It is commonly used in contexts related to childhood and is associated with a lighthearted, joyful atmosphere.


  • Romance & Affection

    → Pink is frequently associated with romance and affection. It is a softer expression of love than red and is often used to convey a sense of sweetness and care.


Negative effects of pink:

  • Stereotyping & Limited Scope

    → Pink can be associated with stereotypical gender norms, leading to perceptions of limited scope. Overuse of pink in specific contexts may reinforce gender stereotypes.


  • Vulnerability & Weakness

    → Pink, particularly in certain shades, may be linked to perceptions of vulnerability or weakness. It might be associated with a lack of strength or resilience in certain contexts.


  • Dependency & Submissiveness

    → Pink, especially in pastel shades, may be linked to perceptions of dependency or submissiveness. It might be associated with qualities that are perceived as passive.


Example of a website using pink - Kylie Cosmetics


Black


Note: I know that, technically speaking, black and white are not colors but shades. However, for the scope of this article, I’ll still treat them as colors as they have their own psychological effects on users.


Black is a powerful, sophisticated color that evokes feelings of mystery, elegance, and authority. It’s often associated with power, formality, and sophistication.


Black is often used in fashion, luxury brands, and websites that want to project an aura of exclusivity and prestige.


However, too much black can be perceived as dull, oppressive, or even intimidating.


On top of that, it’s also not a great choice for health-related brands as, in most cultures, it’s associated with death and grief.


Positive effects of black:

  • Elegance & Sophistication

    → Black is often associated with elegance and sophistication. It is a classic and timeless color that can convey a sense of refinement and style.


  • Mystery & Authority

    → Black is linked to mystery and authority. It can create a sense of intrigue and is often used to convey a commanding and authoritative presence.


  • Formality & Timelessness

    → Black is a formal and timeless color. It is commonly chosen for formal wear and is associated with a sense of enduring style and simplicity.


Negative effects of black:

  • Grief & Mourning

    → Black is traditionally associated with death and grief in many cultures. It symbolises solemnity and is commonly worn at funerals.


  • Negativity & Intimidation

    → In certain contexts, black may be associated with negativity or intimidation. It can convey a sense of seriousness or even evoke feelings of fear or unease.


  • Coldness & Lack of Emotion

    → Black, when used excessively or in certain contexts, may be perceived as cold or lacking emotional warmth.


Example of a website using black - Uber


White


White is a clean, bright color that evokes feelings of purity, freshness, and simplicity. It’s often associated with cleanliness, sterility, and neutrality (think about hospitals).


White is often used in minimalist designs/websites to project a clean and professional image. Brands often use it to convey a sense of purity and innovation.


However, too much white (or a wrong use of it) can be perceived as cold, sterile, or even boring.


Positive effects of white:

  • Purity & Simplicity

    → White is often associated with purity, cleanliness, and simplicity. It can create a sense of openness, spaciousness, and airiness.


  • Peace & Tranquility

    → White can also evoke feelings of peace, tranquility, and calmness. It can make a space feel more spacious and serene.


  • Modernity & Minimalism

    → White is often associated with modernity and minimalism. It can create a sleek, sophisticated, and uncluttered look.


Negative effects of white:

  • Coldness & Sterility

    → In certain contexts, white may be associated with coldness or sterility. It can convey a clinical or impersonal feel, especially when used excessively.


  • Dullness & Monotony

    → Excessive use of white can make a space feel dull or monotonous.


  • Surrender & Isolation

    → White can also be associated with surrender and isolation. Just think about white’s association with the white flag.


Example of a website using white - Nike


Brown


Brown is a rustic, earthy color that evokes feelings of comfort, simplicity, and naturalness. It’s often associated with nature, rusticity, and stability.


Brown is often used in web design to project a sense of stability, reliability, and trustworthiness.


However, brown can also be perceived as dirty and dingy. In fact, research shows that brown is the second least popular color (just after orange), both for men and women.


Positive effects of brown:

  • Earthy & Natural

    → Brown is often associated with earthiness and the natural world. It conveys a warm, grounded feeling, bringing to mind soil, wood, and other elements of nature.


  • Stability & Reliability

    → Brown is linked to stability and reliability. It is a solid and dependable color that can create a sense of reassurance and trustworthiness.


  • Warmth & Comfort

    → Brown can evoke feelings of warmth and comfort. Just consider the difference between a cosy wooden cabin and a cold, white open space in a modern house.


Negative effects of brown:

  • Dullness & Blandness

    → In certain contexts, brown may be associated with dullness or blandness. It might be perceived as lacking vibrancy or excitement, depending on how and where it’s used (remember what I told you in the disclaimer section).


  • Old-fashioned & Outdated

    → Brown can be associated with an old-fashioned or outdated aesthetic, especially in certain shades. This may make it a poor choice for brands looking to convey a sense of modernity.


  • Dirtiness or Dinginess

    → Brown may evoke perceptions of dirtiness or dinginess when associated with certain textures or contexts.


Example of a website using brown - UPS


Limitations


Color psychology is definitely something you should consider when it comes to branding.


However, there’s a significant limitation often overlooked, and that is: “Color associations are not universal”.


That’s right, the meaning you assign to one color might not reflect what I associate with that same color.


Here’s a list of the major factors that come into play:

  1. Cultural Background

    → Did you know that red symbolizes good luck in China, Denmark, and Argentina, while it means bad luck in Germany, Nigeria, and Chad? That’s right; the same exact color has two opposite meanings based on our cultural background


  2. Genders

    → Plenty of studies have shown that males and females differ in their favorite colors. For instance, women tend to indicate a greater preference for warm colors, while men prefer cool colors.


  3. Age

    → Studies suggest that age also influences color preferences. For example, younger people often gravitate towards bolder, more energetic colors, while older adults tend to prefer softer, more calming hues.


  4. Context

    → The context in which we see a color can significantly impact its interpretation. A red heart might evoke feelings of love and passion, while a red stoplight signals caution and danger.


  5. Personal Experiences

    → Our personal experiences with colors can shape our perceptions of them. A positive encounter with a certain shade may create a favorable association, while a negative experience could result in a negative one.


  6. Shade

    → The specific shade of a color can further influence its associations and psychological effects. An example is the one presented in the "yellow" section. Children love brighter shades of yellow, while adults prefer darker shades.


Ultimately, performing user research is the key to finding the perfect color for your brand.


Factors influencing color psychology


FAQs

Q1 - What Is Color Psychology?


Color psychology is the study of how colors influence human behavior, emotions, and perceptions. It explores the psychological effects of different colors on individuals and how they can influence mood, emotions, and decisions.


Q2 - What Is The Most Relaxing Color?


Many studies have found that blue and green are often associated with calmness and relaxation. This is because these colors are easily found in nature and are therefore associated with a sense of peace and tranquility.


Q3 - What Color Makes You Happy?


Yellow is widely regarded as a cheerful and optimistic color. It's often associated with sunshine, warmth, and happiness. Its vibrant hue can stimulate positive emotions, lift moods, and evoke feelings of joy and contentment.


Q4 - What Color Makes You Sleepy?


Green and blue are often perceived as sleep-inducing colors. That's due to their association with nature, freshness, and the calming presence of forests and water.


Q5 - What Color Makes You Hungry?


Red is often associated with hunger and appetite. Big food chains have known this forever; just think about McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC…


Conclusion


Thank you for taking the time to read the whole article. I hope you found it helpful.


If you’ve found this article helpful, I kindly invite you to share it with a friend who might benefit from it!

Luca Da Corte

Luca Da Corte is a freelance Framer Expert and SEO specialist. When he’s not working on some exciting projects, he curates a blog where he shares insights, resources, and experiences on everything regarding websites.

Table Of Contents:

Introduction
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Purple
Pink
Black
White
Brown
Limitations
FAQs
Conclusion

Table Of Contents:

Introduction
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Purple
Pink
Black
White
Brown
Limitations
FAQs
Conclusion

Table Of Contents:

Introduction
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Purple
Pink
Black
White
Brown
Limitations
FAQs
Conclusion