Colour Your Judgement

If you’ve ever performed on stage or been invited to take part in a television programme, you’ll probably have been shown to the ‘green room’ to wait. While these rooms aren’t necessarily painted green, they could well be, with the idea behind the name being that green is a calming colour and your nerves will be eased a little in that environment. 

A little research reveals that hospital walls are also often green. Again, we assumed this was to calm patients, which it partly is, but a quick Google search also suggested that ‘using green for the walls of operating rooms is good for relieving the eyes of doctors who see lots of blood every day, as green sits on the opposite end of the colour spectrum to red’…

In any case, most of us would agree that we are affected by colour. We all have colours we prefer – many of us claim to have a favourite one – and colours make us experience different emotions. 

Many big brands have colours which they are linked with – think red for Coca Cola, yellow for McDonald’s and blue for Facebook – and when companies undergo a branding exercise, colours are a key part of that process. 

Generally speaking, brighter colours might suggest a ‘fun’ brand, while more muted shades could mean a more formal business. For instance, you wouldn’t expect a funeral director to select a bright colour pallet for their website, but there are always exceptions to a rule. Conversely, black is also a colour used to suggest luxury and elegance and brands which utilise it include Chanel and Prada. 

Interestingly, blue is a colour often associated with trust and is chosen by many financial groups, including both PayPal and Visa. We spoke about green being a calming colour earlier, but it is also associated with health and nature, the environment and ‘green’ issues. 

When clients approach us to develop a website for them, the majority already have a colour pallet for us to work with but we’ll definitely still advise them on how that colour will work as regards their website. It has to look right on the screen and not confusing to potential visitors. 

Some websites you click on are a myriad of colours but, generally speaking, we’d say that websites benefit from fewer colours. You don’t want colours that are going to be so bright visitors need to put sunglasses on to look at the screen or shades so pale that you can’t read the words on the screen. 

Yellow is one colour which can be really tricky to incorporate into websites. It is a shade which a number of big brands use and it’s a colour often associated with fun, happiness and confidence. We mentioned McDonald’s earlier but Nikon, Hertz, Shell and Ikea all use yellow. Of all the pantones, it is the hardest to represent on a computer screen, as it can appear in different shades from pale yellow to mustard, depending on the device or screen a website is viewed on. 

When designing a website, it isn’t just all about what a colour means but how it looks on screen. You want to keep visitors engaged, so it’s important to consider what colour text you use and against what backgrounds. Is it easy to read at a glance? Do you want visitors to be drawn to a particular statement, call to action or section of a website? Pale colours on a white background are often hard to see, so consider what colours contrast well or stand out against each other.

Colours and how we use them really matter. As Oscar Wilde said: “Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”
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