Color psychology applied to web design

BrandingWeb design

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Are you an entrepreneur? Then chances are you want to influence your website visitors to make certain choices. For example, you want them to click on buttons, sign up for the newsletter, or buy a product. This influencing can be done through strong writing or by applying Cialdini’s principles. But did you know that colors also influence the choices people make?

What is color psychology?

Color psychology is the study that investigates the meaning of colors and the influence these colors have on human behavior. Its purpose is to understand how and why different colors affect our behavior, feelings and decision-making processes. This form of psychology is used in a huge number of fields, from interior design to art to online marketing to web design.

And why is it so important?

Colors have a tremendously strong influence on our emotions, so in the world of web design and corporate identities, they can be put to good use to convey a specific message to the audience. Colors can also be used to elicit certain actions. Choosing the right colors for your corporate identity is essential to building your brand identity. This is because these colors will be reflected in your logo, website, web shop and in the office. When you are familiar with the effects of different colors, you are well positioned to achieve your goals.

Color psychology applied to web design

Color psychology is hugely important in the world of online marketing, websites and web shops. For a good website, you need a corporate identity, and a big part of this is the use of a set of colors. Choosing the right colors is hugely important! After all, you want to use the different shades to elicit certain emotions and reactions.

If you understand the effects and symbolism of different colors, you can apply them more specifically to your online platform. So … what do all those colors mean and what psychological impact do they have?


Red - Color Psychology

Want to stand out? Then – according to color psychology – choose red! It is a color that quickly attracts attention and is stimulating and activating. This is also why warning signs and fire trucks are colored red. Do you want your Call-to-Action buttons to stand out clearly? Then the color red may be a good option.

The various shades of red radiate power, activity, passion, vitality, dynamism and eroticism. However, red also has adverse effects. Thus, we associate red with aggression, anger, rivalry and domination.

Coca-Cola, Levi’s, YouTube, Netflix, the Red Cross, RedBull, XXL Nutrition


Pink - Color Psychology

In color psychology, pink is often used to indicate love and is often associated with femininity. The intensity of the different shades of pink determines the feeling evoked. For example, pastel pink brings about a calming effect, while magenta exudes cheerfulness and energy.

Pink exudes a sense of playfulness, politeness and approachability in addition to love, femininity and cheerfulness, youthfulness and excitement.

Some people still find pink exudes childishness, neediness, helplessness and weakness. So it is important to take into account your target audience and their opinion of the color. Will they appreciate your use of pink or will it cause them to distance themselves from your company?

Victoria Secret, T-Mobile, Barbie


How do you feel when the sun shines? You’re comfortable then, aren’t you? This is due to the yellow glow emitted by the sun. Yellow is a great color for attracting attention, also think reflective safety vests and ambulances! Our eyes often process yellow tones earlier than other colors. So like red, yellow is a good color for Call-to-Actions!

Yellow often evokes positive emotions such as zest for life, fun, happiness, curiosity, spontaneity, openness, creativity, wisdom, joy and self-confidence.

However, certain shades of yellow or overuse of it can have adverse effects. Thus, yellow can evoke irritation, overstimulation and nervousness.

Zwitsal, IKEA, McDonald’s, Burger King


Orange - Color Psychology

Orange is a color created from the warm combination of red and yellow. Orange is an appropriate color to draw attention to something. You may have noticed that many “add to cart” and “order now” buttons are colored orange. In the world of online marketing, orange is often a softer alternative to red. It easily attracts attention without being too intrusive!

Orange is associated with playfulness, sociability and warmth, friendliness, youthfulness, energy, freshness, optimism, adventurousness
and vitality.

Beware! After all, orange can also look too youthful, so it can be associated as childish. Also, some believe that orange is a cheap and frivolous color.

Fanta, Coolblue, Nickelodeon,


Brown - Color Psychology

Brown is a darker variant of orange. It is the color of sand, mud, wood and earth. So a very natural shade. We associate the color with warmth, autumn and coziness. All in all, brown is considered a masculine shade. It is therefore the perfect color when your target audience is mostly men! In the last few years, lighter shades of brown are also often used to create a sense of minimalism, neutrality and calmness.

In both cases, the various shades of brown radiate a warm, reassuring, stable, safe and reliable feeling.

However, be careful not to use too many shades of brown on your website or online store. Indeed, this can appear dull, corny and lifeless.

Louis Vuitton, M&M, Magnum, Nespresso, UGG


Blue - Color Psychology

Blue is a color common in nature, think of the sea and sky! Blue is many people’s favorite color! So it is smart to consider the color when developing a corporate identity.

Blue is associated with trust, loyalty, stability, intelligence, honesty, contentment, kindness and patience. Many large tech and media companies use the color to evoke a sense of trust in their (potential) customers.

However, blue can also be seen as negative. For example, the color is related to feelings of sadness and depression (“feeling blue”). Also, certain shades of blue can be cold, distant and conservative, appearing to create a distance between your company and its target audience.

Facebook, Skype, PayPal, Unilever, LinkedIn, Albert Heijn, the police, central government


Green - Color Psychology

Like blue, green is a color we often encounter in nature. Therefore, in the world of (online) marketing, the color is often used to symbolize sustainability and ecology. It is a popular choice among brands seeking to position themselves as environmentally friendly.

Also, green is the color commonly associated with health, healing, tranquility, development, fertility, renewal, growth, freshness, confidence, harmony and vibrancy.

As with any other color, green can also be seen as unfavorable. Thus, greenery can evoke feelings of boredom, jealousy, decay and decay.

Starbucks, Heineken, Spotify, Greenpeace, Samsung, Hello Fresh


Purple has been used for centuries by people of elite status. Today in color psychology, purple is still associated with luxury, style, wealth and even spirituality! The latter is because purple is also often used in the world of mystery, magic and the supernatural.

Purple is a color not used very often in online marketing. By using this, you can set yourself apart from the competition (hence our house colors!).

Purple evokes many positive emotions and feelings. Thus, it is associated with calmness, creativity, luxury, comfort, honesty, wisdom and leadership.

However, purple can also be seen as decadent and cheap.

Gaia Digital, Andrélon, Milka, Hallmark


Black - Color Psychology

Black is the darkest shade we know and is a shade with many different properties. Black can have intimidating associations that can be deployed both positively and negatively.

On the one hand, black is seen as timeless, classic, elegant, dignified, authoritative, solid, refined and powerful.

On the other hand, black in Western culture can evoke pessimistic feelings such as anger, loneliness, suffocation, anxiety and depression.

Uber, Adidas, Under Armour


White Color Psychology

White has been considered a symbol of innocence, goodness and purity for centuries. Also, white serves as a neutral shade that gives our eyes rest. Hence, it is widely used in website design as a complementary shade for the texts or for the use of white spaces.

White is associated with peace, honesty, tranquility, clarity, perfection, completeness, divinity, hygiene and purity.

But beware! Using too much white in your web design can create a sterile, indifferent and cold feeling. Therefore, it is always recommended to use white in combination with other colors.

Apple, Zara, Calvin Klein


Gray - Color Psychology

Gray is a combination of black and white. Because it sits between these two shades, gray is mostly perceived as neutral and balanced. The lack of color makes it a useful shade to apply, as it goes with everything! Gray is the ideal accent color, but it is important to know that it is not recommended to choose gray as the main color when putting together your corporate identity. This is because the color has more negative associations than positive ones.

Thus, gray can look dull, old, massive, drab, moody, indifferent or hidden. Gray is inconspicuous, indifferent and distant.

At the same time, gray can also exude elegance, modesty and timelessness.

Nintendo Wii, Wikipedia

Color preferences

When choosing colors for your website or webshop, it is not only important to consider color psychology, but also the favorite colors of your target audience! As previously mentioned, for many, blue is their favorite color, but men and women have many other preferences, this is evidenced by the Colour Assigment Research by Joe Hallock. Whereas blue is a corresponding favorite color, men further prefer green and black, while women really like purple. In addition, men like bright hues, while women prefer a softer color palette.

men/women - Color Psychology

When your target audience is about 70% one sex, it is advisable to adjust your color choice accordingly.

Choosing colors with the color wheel

Have you been able to choose a main color for your website based on color psychology? Nice, but you’re not quite there yet. Most house styles consist of two to four colors. One or two of these colors are your main colors and the remaining colors are secondary colors. Using the color wheel, you can arrive at the right color combinations. The three main color schemes that can be distinguished are as follows:

  • Complementary colors: two colors that are opposite each other in the color wheel. The colors reinforce each other and create a powerful contrast. Think green and red (Heineken) or blue and orange (Coolblue).
  • Analog colors: in this case you use two or three colors that are next to each other in the color wheel. The colors share similar hues and form beautiful combinations, creating a soft transition between colors. An example is dark green, light green and yellow (BP Netherlands).
  • Triadic colors: three colors equally scattered on the color wheel. The combination of these colors creates a balanced contrast. An example is pink, green and orange or blue, red and yellow (Redbull).

Color Psychology

Note! You have now chosen two to four colors for your corporate identity, but don’t forget to add neutral colors, such as white, black or gray, to your web design. These shades provide balance and can be applied well for textual elements.

Well, now you finally know how color psychology can be applied to web design! Colors and emotions are very strongly connected. So take advantage of this while developing a corporate identity or designing a website or webshop. Delve into the psychology of colors, get to know your target audience and boost your business!

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