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Using color to convey emotion
Anyone considering this in their design?

 1:21 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I know everyone designs their site to be visually appealing. Does anyone try to use colors to convey feelings to your users? When I was in art school we always had to do experiments with colors and psychology. I was always suprized to see that people were moved by color and color combinations.

We know that colors do effect human emotions [webmasterworld.com]. I know there are a lot of psychology studies on humans and colors. Do these effect your designs?

Colors always speak differently to different cultures. Have you found that there is a common color scheme to the sites in your niche? Are you using color to its fullest potential or just making something pretty?



 2:09 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I do - but then I also cater my colour schemas for the target nationality/ethnicity/culture.

For example, Blue is considered a very safe colour to use design wise; it's the colour of holiness in Judeism, the colour of Krishna in Hinduism and the colour of immortality in China. It is, conversely, the colour of villany in Japan.

Black represents mourning, evil and dark spirits in many cultures, yet funnily it is seen as sophiticated and elegant in many cosmopolitan, prosperous areas.

White has associations with purity, holiness and salvation in most Western cultures, however, in many Eastern cultures White is the colour of mourning. Since white is such a primary colour for contrast, mixing it with colours that have a more positive significance (Blue, for example) can negate any negative associations.

Colours have very varied meanings in different cultures, and as designers I think that we have to take into account the cultural backgrounds of the target audience and use colour schemas that are sensitive to this. SURL (Wichita Universitys Software Useability Research Laboratory) did a colour comparison in their optimal web design study, which can be found here [psychology.wichita.edu].

<added>There are some excellent links to colour symbolism charts in the thread that you linked to Korkus, which have been added tout suite to my favourites!</added>


 2:32 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Are you using color to its fullest potential or just making something pretty?

Excellent topic.

Well, I don't use Red (text) over Black, or Orange over Deep Blue (they are somewhat intrusive on the eye 'ya know) and I tend to stay away from flourescents all together, opting instead for softer hues of earthtones.

So, I guess you'd say 'fullest potential' whilst being 'pretty'.



 3:18 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Great topic for a thread, korkus! It's caused me to do some more thinking on the subject, and I thank you for that.

I tend to choose colors by what looks good together, depending on what a client wants for their basic color or color scheme. I don't tend to think in terms of the psychological impact of my color choices. Although having read some of the info provided in the thread referenced above, I seem to have good instincts in this area. Most of my color choices appear to have conveyed exactly the feelings they were supposed to.

I may think a little more carefully about some of my choices in the future, though. I hadn't really even considered the cross-cultural implications of color choices, though most sites I've done so far are mostly U.S.-oriented.

I also did a bit more research on the topic, too, and found several good links from a webreference article [webreference.com].


 3:27 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think it is something we should always consider. Large international companies do change their branding strategies for different countries. We have a unique business because our sites are really international. The local bar doesn't really worry about international aspect of their marketing, but we have to.

It is always amazing that something as small as a color can manipulate a person based on their background. Attention to the smallest details makes a project a success.

Pure blue is a great color because it is global. The sky is blue, water is blue, it is a primary color. Shades really can play a role though. Dark blue can be interpated differently than bright blue.


 3:40 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is interesting, I have used colors to separate stuff on intranets and web forms, but never to try and influence a sale :)
Colors that Sell! [insyncweb.com]


 4:47 pm on Jan 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I tend to choose colors by what looks good together, depending on what a client wants for their basic color or color scheme.

yep, thatís what i am always forced to do. usually clients say these are my colors, and donít change them! itís a shame, because a good managed color psychology can enhance greatly a website.

btw, pantone declared the PANTONE 15-4020 TC [pantone.com] better known as cerulean blue as the color of the new millenium.
in an article here [business2.com] it is said to have improved the sales of varios items.
i havenít compared all the different ways of displaying the cerulean blue that pantone tells, iím almost sure theyíre not all identical!


 11:56 pm on Jan 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

There is a very good point that's made about color in Hillman Curtis' book MTIV.

The section is titled "Don't Take Color So Personally". He states that
Individual responses to color will also emerge from very personal experiences, most often those that occurred in childhood.

He states that one may hate the color green because it reminds them of the time they took a bite out of an apple and they see half a green worm still in the apple. This would cause them to have a negative connotation attached to that color. So a counterpoint can be made by saying that green can remind someone of nature and a great summer spent at camp etc.

I'm not going to draw conclusions from this I just wanted to mention it because it's interesting to think about it.


 12:37 am on Jan 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting topic. Don't forget, too that between 8-11% of men and up to 1% of women are at least partially colorblind. "Colorblind" itself is a somewhat misleading term, as the most common manifestations are confusion of shades of reds and greens, but not blue. There are some products available, such as vischeck.com, which help you design with colorblind users in mind.

There's an old WebTechniques [newarchitectmag.com] article which offered some tips on picking colors, cross-culturally and cross-gender. Take it with a grain of salt-- EuroDisney's problems extended far beyond painting rides purple-- but it is food for thought.

Another thing to remember is that colors go in and out of vogue. Many of us associate an era with a set of colors or vice versa. Drab green is a 1970s kitchen. Fluorescent yellow or pink is a swimsuit in a 1980s Valley girl movie. About a decade ago in the urban US, dark forest greens ("British racing green") became a very popular color for automobiles; more recently, silver seemed to be the car color of the day. And judging from the new SUVs parked around our building, perhaps yellow is the new silver? Well, I hope not ;).

The WebTechniques article also mentioned [colormatters.com...] .


 4:11 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

i think everyone selects colors him/her match/fit/look good. but i think for websites it's good to keep in mind, that there are things more important than color: contrast for example.

and the human eyes are not a industry standarized hardware - everyone sees color in his own way. there are some websites around where you can display your website like it would look if you can't see green for example. i think this is good to have in mind on this discussion, even it's more dedicated to color theory.

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