The Meaning and Psychology of Colors
The Designer’s Handbook of Colors
Any self-respecting designer has to know quite a bit about the psychology of colors, and how a color or a combination of colors instinctively affects the visitor’s first (and second) impression.
If you are a site owner and simply browsing this for your own website redesign and project, it can also help you determine which set of colors to go with, or at least what should be the dominant color of your website.
There are universal color associations, and then there are the sometimes more prominent personal associations, as well as culture-dependent associations. The first question you should answer positively is what is your target audience? If it is international, or somewhat international, then you should only concern yourself with universal color associations.
Universal Color Associations
There are many advanced articles already written about the meaning of individual colors, but for the purpose of design, and as a quick colors reference, here is a very brief summary of colors, mostly focusing on the positive associations.
Yellow is a clear attention-grabber and mostly associated with liveliness and the feeling of happiness. It is energetic.
Orange radiates cheerfulness, enthusiasm and creativity, but what is very often important when designing web sites, it is also associated with affordability.
Red is mostly associated with boldness, excitement and desire. It is a powerful color, whose negative associations due to traffic lights, alarms etc. should not be underestimated.
Pink is usually associated with romance and tenderness, but it has also been shown to have a calming effect. After adjusting, the calming effect usually transforms into agitation.
Purple has traditionally long been associated with power, nobility and wealth. It is also strongly associated with wisdom and spirituality, as well as magic and mystery.
Blue is one of the most liked colors, especially by men. It is linked with depth and stability, professionalism, honor and trust. Blue raises productivity, and diminishes the appetite.
Green is the color of nature and everything natural. It is identified with safety and optimism, durability and reliability, harmony and freshness. It is a calming and stress relieving color.
Brown is a reassuring color of endurance, relaxation and confidence. It can be thought of as conventional or rather sophisticated and solid.
Gray provokes feelings of conservatism, traditionalism and seriousness.
White signifies purity and innocence. Further associations are cleanliness, newness and simplicity.
Black is, especially in design, an elegant and stylish color which can imply sophistication and strength, or provoke feelings of mystery. It is also associated with depth or gloom.
Next: Color Preferences by Gender
Designer’s Handbook of Colors
Universal Color Associations ✤ Color Preferences by Gender ✤ Color Tools & Testers ✤ Further Reading