Which colours?

Colour is often overlooked in the business of optimising websites for better returns. Website sales can be greatly affected by simply changing its colours. Ever come across a website that uses a weird combination of print and background colours? If you ever want to experience an eye-twisting headache, try reading yellow print on a blue background. The reason you see black type or dark blue, dark green or dark red on a white background so much is that it is the best colour combination for reading, both on and offline.

And since it is even harder to read text on a monitor than it is on paper, we must all be especially careful with the colours we choose for our websites, or suffer less-than-optimal site traffic and repeat visitors.

Colour choice should also be dictated by other, less obvious goals, when designing or re-vamping a website. It's important to realise that different colours invoke different emotions, are associated with specific concepts and say different things in each society. For instance, green is often associated with freshness or money, which is fairly obvious if you think about it. But every colour does this, and some of the emotions and concepts are more subtle. For example, white means pure, easy, or goodness and purple can be associated with royalty or sophistication. What's more, each colour carries with it both positive and negative ideas. The emotions and concepts that you associate with specific colours may differ from other people's associations, but there are themes that run throughout each colour. Here are some:

Red:Positive: Sense of power, strength, action, passion, sexuality. Negative: Anger, forcefulness, impulsiveness, impatience, intimidation, conquest, violence and revenge.

Yellow:Positive: Caution, brightness, intelligence, joy, organization, springtime. Negative: Criticism, laziness, or cynicism.

Blue: Positive: Tranquillity, love, acceptance, patience, understanding, cooperation, comfort, loyalty and security. Negative: Fear, coldness, passivity and depression .

Orange:Positive: Steadfastness, courage, confidence, friendliness, and cheerfulness, warmth, excitement and energy. Negative: Ignorance, inferiority, sluggishness and superiority.

Purple: Positive: Royalty, sophistication, religion. Negative: Bruised or foreboding.

Green:Positive: Money, health, food, nature, hope, growth, freshness, soothing, sharing, and responsiveness. Negative: Envy, greed, constriction, guilt, jealousy and disorder.

Black:Positive: Dramatic, classy, committed, serious. Negative: Evil, death, ignorance, coldness.

White:Positive: Pure, fresh, easy, cleanliness or goodness. Negative: Blind, winter, cold, distant.

A major goal of marketers is to invoke emotion in their audience. We know that if we can cause some kind of an emotional reaction in the people we are marketing to and communicating with, we have a better chance of compelling them to buy from us. The battle between logic and emotion that rages in each of is usually won by emotion.  As a general rule of thumb, when Oak Web Works designs websites, one primary colour and one secondary or complimentary colour will be chosen. These colours are based on the specific audience and market of our client and the messages the client wants to communicate to the rest of the world. If more than two or three colours are used, things tend to look a little messy, and the power of any one colour is diluted too much, so we most often stick with two colours. However, if the client already has an established brand, we will always make sure to match the colours of the website with the original colours of the company. It is not wise to have print collateral material one colour and the website a totally unrelated colour.

About The Author.  Jason O’Connor owns and operates Oak Web Works, LLC - The synthesis of Web marketing, design, and technology. Jason is an expert at Web design, programming, e-strategy, and e-marketing.