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Colors have a very powerful and multi-level impact on us, humans. They can function in very practical ways and help us make sense of things, such as find our way around a website.  At the same time, they trigger our emotions and influence the way we think and feel. Colors are a powerful tool in Web design – if you know how to use them.

Let’s take a look at semantic levels of color, explain when you should make use of them, and give some best practices of how to use colors most effectively on the Web.

Six Semantic Levels of Color

For every color, there is a psychological context in which it functions. Colors arouse different emotions in us, depending on our previous experiences and personal preferences.

These preferences are not linked to anything rational. For example, my favorite color can be the least favorite color of someone else at the same time.

When Do Colors Influence People?

On the Web, most information is presented to us in a visual way. We come across audio recordings once in a while, but most of the time we are confronted with visuals.

Now imagine there was no color on the Internet and all websites were a mixture of black, white and shades of grey.  Boring, right?

Colors on the Web have many functions. They can make a design interesting and appealing, catch our attention, help us to differentiate between brands and products, and even influence what we think of them. Colors influence us whenever any kind of decision needs to be made.

Whether we exhaustively elaborate on a decision, or make it based on inner instincts, we depend on both factual information and our emotions. And our emotions are highly color-sensitive.

When we use colors in Web design, we need to be aware of their impact on our visitors’ experience and use them carefully.

Using the Power of Color

Colors influence not only how users perceive you, but also how they act on your website and how they react to what you offer them. Thee are some best practices that will put you on the safe side and help you use colors o your advantage.

Colors and your target audience
Define your main target audience and research what colors mean to them. there are many studies that have investigated the impact of colors on different cultures. For example. informationisbeautiful.net.

Colors and your Image
Think of yourself first and define what you want your users and customers to think of you. Choose colors that represent this image to your audience.

A Color has many shades.
Make sure the colors you choose can be displayed correctly on any digital devices. While the print world rely on Pantone to match color display, online we’re tied to the inconsistent display of RGB.

Colors can be overwhelming.
It’s important not to use too many different colors on your website. Try to manage no more than three colors. Ideally pick a primary, a secondary and one highlight color when coming up with a color pallet.

Colors can be confusing.
Use color consistently. As much as colors can work for you, they can also work against you – if you’re not consistent.

Color me Successful

Colors have quite an impact on us and the decision we make. Colors differ in their meaning based on their psychological, symbolic, cultural, political, traditional and creative context. Colors play a central role in our judgement and actions — especially in visual environments like the Web.

“The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color.”
– Hans Hofmann, German artist

Colors can be used for both aesthetic and semantic reasons. The aesthetic quality of your website is high if people like your design and remember your message. The practical quality reveals if people find what they are looking for on your website and if they perceive it as convenient and satisfying.