Color as a Design Element: Why is It So Important?


Our world is full of colors, but most of these colors exist for a reason. We sway, our emotions act up, and our moods vacillate due to color but we don’t give it much thought. We go about it as if it doesn’t affect us. Unless we mean to buy something we are going to use personally (such as apparel and many other items), we don’t worry about color. Or, do we?

 If the oceans weren’t blue, what would be the replacement color if you had to take blue out of the equation? Why does red signify “extremism” while yellow means “happy?” Is green the color for luck, envy, or fertility? Purple is supernatural and orange is vibrant. 

Here’s how it all comes into a single box, as far as the design of things is in question: consumer behavior determines the sale of products and services. Websites are primarily used to begin the facilitation for sales and marketing. The colors you use to design your website now determine how well you sell because you are affecting consumer behavior directly. If websites are built as vehicles to facilitate marketing processes for your clients, your implementation of color determines their success rate. Here are a few reasons why color is important for design and what you need to do about it: 

Understanding the Meaning of Colors 

According to Colormatters, red is the color of extremes. It signifies passion, danger, anger, adventure, rebellious nature, love, violence, and even war. Red is all about passion, strong feelings, mystery, magic, and power. Apart from that, red just happens to be a global favorite. It just grabs attention.Yellow signifies moods, happiness, brightness, and even semi-urgent signs to alert us (red goes for very important messages, though). Yellow is all about warmth. Scientifically speaking, yellow is the most luminous (most visible) color on earth (even more than red). 

The point is this: pick any color and it’ll have its own set of meanings for your readers, visitors, customers, or your target market on the whole.

Now, your website visitors aren’t going to be loaded with lessons on colors. Even most designers don’t know much. Pick your color with care. Without anyone ever knowing what’s happening, your choice of colors is going to affect the outcome of whatever your webpage sets out to achieve.

Color and Marketing Go Together

Scientific research points to the fact that color and marketing go together. You are setting up that website (for you or for a client) for the sole purpose of marketing. If so, color determines outcomes.

According to research conducted by the secretariat of the Seoul International Color Expo, more than 92% of consumers reported that they put most importance on visual factors related to products as compared to touch, hearing, and smell. More than 84.7% of customers attribute color as the one of the most important factors leading to their purchase decision.

In another study by the University of Loyola, color also determines the success of brands. Colorful iPods catapulted Apple to success and Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green Ketchup saw 10 million bottles sold in 7 short months. People associate colors with brands and vice-versa.

Color Aids in Attracting Customers

 That website is being built so that it can attract, retain, and convert clients. While many elements will go into building a website that converts, color is where it all starts. According to research conducted by Xerox Corporation and International Communications Research:

  • 92% of respondents believe that colors present the image of quality.
  • 90% believe that color also aids in attracting new customers.
  • 81% of businesses believe that colors give brands a competitive edge
  • and 76% of business owners believe that use of the right color makes their business appear professional (and sometimes larger) to most of their clients.

The Proof is in the Pudding

 The website design community firmly believes in elements such as color, typography, or the theory of design itself before conceptualizing and designing websites. Cameron Chapman of Smashing Magazine helpfully curated a long list of examples of websites created with an emphasis on colors. Featuring red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, gray, and brown, Cameron walks the extra mile to show clear uses of color for the types of websites these colors were incorporated into. 

He also suggests developing your own set of color palettes as a best practice. If you are a designer or developer, he insists on building your own color schemes as a part of your design workflow such as monochromatic, analogous, complimentary, split complimentary, triadic, tetradic, and even custom (if you have to).

If nothing, applying the right colors to your website just looks nice. It’s a visual web today after all and your choice of colors will go a long way to determine how your customers (or your clients’ customers) perceive your brand. Colors also, as we determined earlier, affect the entire marketing process – from lead generation to final conversions.

How do you determine the colors for your websites? What systems or processes do you have in place to account for the importance of colors in your website design workflow? Please let me know your thoughts.

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