Everything You Need To Know About The Psychology of Color in UX Design
Knowledge of color psychology is a vital aspect of creating a visual color palette that works well in digital design. Sometimes, color is simply referred to as an aesthetic choice by certain designers but it is a crucial element of the psychological impact of a design on users and UX. A balanced color palette can take your design from “good” to “extraordinary” and a substandard color palette can greatly reduce the overall user experience and ability to use an app.
We understand that color theory is a complicated subject and the use of color in UX design includes way more than just selecting pleasing colors that look nice. So, designers can slowly include the use of color in their designs without changing the entire design process. As a designer, once the basics are covered, one of the most satisfying parts of color theory is learning how to include more colors into your designs. Let us talk about the psychology and role of color in UX.
The Psychology of Color
Color theory and its psychological impact on users is an interesting topic. However, there are various elements that can be addressed on a universal level. The things like the common definition of colors (primary, secondary or tertiary), conventional color palettes and cultural variations. It is advisable for designers to understand and learn these basics to apply more naturally in their design. There are various points to be understood deeply when we talk about the use of colors in UX design.
Simple color meanings can be quite easy to understand and learn but subtle meanings can be tricky and could be used better in design elements. There are some universal colors like black, white and gray which are included in almost all designs in the world but it is important to see which colors they are paired with to provide an optimum user experience.
Color – Cultural Differences
Cultural differences is one of the most overlooked aspects by designers which are based around colors. For instance, in western countries, white color is linked to things like purity and innocence. But, in the eastern parts or in Asia, it is linked to death and bad luck.
Some colors tend to have a positive outlook irrespective of culture like orange while other colors like white are used differently in different countries. If not understood properly, it can make things quite complicated for the designers when they are trying to appeal to a larger target audience.
It is crucial that designers look at the cultural implications of their color palettes depending on the intended audience for the product or their app. If a product is to be launched to a global audience, make sure that the colors are balanced to avoid any negative implications in certain sections of the world. If you are primarily targeting one particular country or geography, then you can possibly focus on this particular country and ignore the rest.
Colors and Your Brand
Brand values should definitely play an integral part in forming a color palette. Though, it is not the only contributing factor. Industry norms should be kept in mind along with understanding what your competitors are doing. If you use a color similar to your competition, you will not be able to create a distinct brand image as it will confuse the users.
However, there are various exceptions to this principle. Like Fast Food restaurants always go with Red. For example, McDonald’s and KFC, both have the color red in their branding and it works well for both these brands. Obviously, there will be certain differences between brands and that will create a distinct image.
Red – Red is the color of passion/ excitement and hence it works well in developing strong emotions in people. Mostly used as an aggressive color in fast food industry like with McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Coke etc.
Orange – Orange is a creative color that is linked to adventure and youth. It creates a bubbly image along with a retro feeling. Fanta is one brand that has used the color Orange quite well in their branding.
Yellow – Yellow is a cheerful and optimistic color. It is quite a rage in children’s brands as it signifies youth and happiness.
Green – Green has been used by brands differently. It often creates the feeling of wealth and on the other hand it signifies the closeness to nature and environment.
Blue – Blue is always associated with loyalty and trust. Lighter shades of blue are always linked with communication whereas the darker shades are linked to depression. That explains why companies like Facebook and Twitter have used this color as it promotes communication.
Black – Black is the color of luxury and sophistication. It can also be used negatively or in a sad state. Based on the use of other colors along with it, Black can be used to give a contemporary and luxurious look to your brand.
White – White is the color of purity and innocence. It is quite popular these days in minimalist designs due to its innate simplicity. Similar to black, white color also depends on the use of other colors used with it.
Gray – Gray can have different meanings depending on the context which it is used in. It can be used to signify conservative and sophisticated or dingy and dull. It can also be linked to sorrow and sadness.
The 60-30-10 rule is a simple rule to create color palettes based on balance and visual appeal. The rule is that a fairly neutral color takes up 60% of the palette. Another complementary color takes up the 30% and a third color can be used as an accent which will be around 10% of the overall design. This rule is quite helpful for the designers when they start working out of their comfort zone. By using this rule, you can make your brand stand out amongst tough competition.
It is evident from the above post that color theory is quite a complex and overwhelming subject but it is extremely easy to understand and learn the basics. Once that is done, the designers have the knowledge and experience to create distinct color palettes for their designs. A well-designed color palette is not just an aesthetic choice. It has various psychological implications on the users too and hence UX designers should use colors carefully to create a better user experience. We hope this post will help you to understand the psychology behind the use of color.
Dhruvil is a Writer & Marketeer for Nimblechapps, joining December 2014, based out of Sydney, Australia. He has worked briefly as a Branding and Digital Marketing Manager before moving to Australia. At Nimblechapps, he worked on Social Media Marketing, Branding, Email Marketing and Blogging. Dhruvil studies Business at University of Western Sydney, and also handles Operations for the company in Australia.