Color Psychology: How Color Influences Decisions

Many designers tend to think of colors as something that have only a purely aesthetic impact. However, colours are actually a vital component of the psychological impact of your design on users. Colors send a message without being overt and can thus determine buying choices. It only takes 90 seconds for a person to form an opinion about your product, and it’s estimated that up to 90 percent of that opinion is based on colors alone. Since colour is often the first thing users notice, it has a huge impact on their thoughts.

Color is a part of the language that designers use to communicate with their users. Having an understanding of color psychology is a key aspect of creating color palettes that increase conversion. In this article, I want to share practical tips on how to use colors to increase your conversion rate.

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What is color psychology?
Color psychology is a discipline that researches how color influences human behavior and decision making. Color psychology is essential for sales and marketing—different colors can impact the way buyers perceive a brand.

Color psychology is based on the theory of how our brain processes colors. The human eye has a visual response to light. Light travels in waves, and each color has a different wavelength. These different wavelengths hit the eye in different ways. They create electrical impulses that go to the hypothalamus in the brain, which controls a number of functions in the human body—behavioral patterns, appetite, and body temperature among them.

Color psychology: how the brain perceives color graphic
How the brain perceives color. Image credit: YouTube.
General facts about colors
To understand the impact of color on buyers’ actions, it’s important to understand the impact colors have on our thoughts and emotions.

  1. Colors can be stimulating or calming
    There are two types of colors—warm and cold. As you can probably guess, these classifications have an impact on how we comprehend the colors.

Color psychology: warm and cold color wheel
Warm and cold colors.
Warm colors are colors in the red area of the color spectrum. Red, orange, and yellow can invoke a sense of warmth and passion in design. Warm colors have long wavelengths and radiate a considerable amount of energy. As a result, warm colors work best when they are used as accent colors. Using warm colors as a basic color can easily make your design look irritating and annoying.

Cool colors contain higher amounts of blue. Blue, purple, and green are cool colors. These colors naturally create a calming effect, and are often popular in interior design because they encourage relaxation. However, when overused, cold colors can call to mind feelings of sadness.

  1. Different genders have different color preferences
    Gender can influence the color choices we make, and there are differences and similarities between men’s and women’s perceptions of color schemes. In 2003, Joe Hallock researched color and shared his insights in his paper Colour Assignment. The paper highlights some clear preferences in specific colors across gender. Among the most noticeable is that both genders like blue and green.

Color psychology: female favorite colorColor psychology: male favorite color
The favorite colors of men and women. Image credit: Joe Hallock.
Similarly, men and women both shared least favorite colors: brown and orange.

Color psychology: female least favorite colorColor psychology: male least favorite color
The least favorite colors of men and women. Image credit: Joe Hallock.
But the study also highlighted a difference in preferences. The second favorite color among women is purple. However, purple is the least favorite color among men. Another valuable insight is when it comes to shades, tints, and hues, men generally prefer bold colors, while women prefer softer colors.

You might also like: 10 Beautiful Ecommerce Website Color Schemes.

  1. Color can mean different things in different cultures
    Colors are a powerful tool for creating emotions. Many articles about color discuss the phenomena of color associations. We often read that blue is the color of sincerity, green represents growth, while red demonstrates passion. The problem with such categorizations is that reactions to color are somewhat learned. Colors can mean different things in different cultures. For example, in many Western cultures, white is associated with positive things, while in many parts of Asia, white is associated with mourning. As a result, it’s almost impossible to narrow one color down to a solid meaning.
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