How to choose colors for your UI Project? Colors in IT

Marketing actions are strongly influenced by psychology. Understanding your clients’ personas will help you elevate your KPIs and reach your application goals. One of the topics we would like to address today is the psychology of color. It defines the perception of your brand by your consumers based on colors that you have used in your design - are they willing to trust you and make a purchase? How do they perceive a “dark mode” design that is based on black and gray colors? Will green CTA button generate more conversions than a red one? How about yellow?

Why choosing right colors for your UI is important?

In this article, we will deep dive into the meaning of colors in marketing activities with a strong focus on matching the right colors to your web apps and mobile applications or CTA buttons. The example of Google perfectly shows how important the psychology of color is in business. In 2012, the company conducted a study to analyze the reactions of its users to fifty shades of blue (blue is universally liked by all genders). Google counted the number of clicks on commercial links, matching it with a given shade of blue. Thanks to this, it was possible to choose the shade of blue that had the best impact on users and highest conversion rate that made Internet users click on the link. According to official data, the use of this particular shade of blue increased the company's profits by $200 million in 2013 alone. There is no doubt - it's worth using psychology of color principles in your applications.

Psychology of color is crucial for your application

This is especially important when choosing a color scheme for a web app or mobile application. This can be seen, for example, by looking at the pages aimed mainly at women or men. Research shows that users’ gender affects color perception. Gender preferences, based on nationality or age-related, are not limited and constant, but it is worth taking them into account when planning the appearance of the application. There are no strict rules for which colors are male, female, or gender neutral. Since colors come in many shades, someone may love rich royal blue, but they definitely don't like a pale blue sky, so preference for blue doesn't mean that every shade of blue is universally appropriate. However, some generalizations are possible from color research.

Blue inspires confidence

It is the color of trust, peace, order and loyalty. It is perceived as a color of silence and self-control, is also associated with honesty, integrity, and is often described as safe and calm. Blue is a favorite color of both men and women of all ages. However, males have a much stronger preference for blue than females. It can be the calming effect of blue that makes it a popular color for both men and women, or it can be a combination of several shades of blue with authority, intelligence, and stability.

This is the reason why it’s so commonly used on professional websites. You can use blue on a corporate, business or financial website, following examples such as Facebook, PayPal, Twitter, PZU. It is a color that inspires confidence.

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unsplash.com @Alexander Shatov

Green refers to the nature

The most intuitive understanding of the green color is nature – associated with ecological products, air and the environment. Interestingly, research shows that green stimulates creativity and is also connected with it. If your website has anything to do with nature, then green will probably be a good choice. A green CTA (Call To Action) button will be especially effective if there is an isolation effect occurring - an element that stands out a lot is remembered more easily by your users. Research shows that participants are better able to recognize an object when it is grossly different from its surroundings. Therefore, the green CTA button is best placed on a white or gray background to stand out and attract the attention of the recipient. Green and blue are also understood as the colors of trust. This color in the eyes of consumers is associated with the credibility of a brand that is at the same time fresh, inventive, but also successful and self-confident. The green color is cool and calm, and stands for growth, renewal, health and the environment, as well as balance and stability. While women prefer cool, soft colors, men prefer more vivid shades.

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unsplash.com @Alexander Shatov

Yellow is a warning

Yellow, although referred to as the color of joy and friendship, is understood in psychology of color as a warning and is also used as such. It is often used to gain users’ attention. Is it suitable for increasing website conversion then? Not necessarily. However, it can work, for example, by introducing curiosity of your web application users. The yellow color might also be a good fit in terms of conversion on a white background. Interestingly, according to research, 60% of consumers consider color as the main factor in their purchasing decisions, and car manufacturers still sell the vast majority of cars (almost 75%) in conservative colors such as white, black, gray and silver. I chose green. Think about what you see on the road - warning signs are also yellow. Psychology of color is not used only by marketers - its tools can be used, for example, to gain your attention in every day’s life tasks.

https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1611162617263-4ec3060a058e?ixlib=rb-1.2.1&ixid=MnwxMjA3fDB8MHxwaG90by1wYWdlfHx8fGVufDB8fHx8&auto=format&fit=crop&w=1674&q=80
unsplash.com @Alexander Shatov

Orange creates a rush

Orange encourages impulsive behavior. It can be used as a color of joy as well as to stimulate physical activity, competition, confidence, and immediacy. In particular cases, orange might be interpreted as something cheap. Maybe that's why orange has become the flagship color of the Aliexpress auction site? Orange, like yellow, is an eye-catching color. These colors are usually interpreted as solid, durable and strong, cheerful and optimistic, full of life and with the expectation of longevity.

Red energizes

Red is used to communicate passion, excitement, love, blood, or warning - e.g. as a stop light at a pedestrian crossing. The red is absolutely eye-catching. However, it is not used on CTA buttons as often as green. However, there are certain cases when a color change on the CTA button from green to red prompts immediate action. Red is also exciting and modern. Often considered by marketers as desirable, but a bit risky. In addition to emotional influences, colors also evoke physical responses. It has been proven that when lighting is red, human responses are 12% faster than normal. Also, warm colors are better at gaining attention than cold colors.

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Źródło unsplash.com @Alexander Shatov

Black adds prestige

Black is luxurious, elegant, sophisticated and timeless. Black color is a classic which is suitable for selling high-quality products, e.g. expensive watches, luxury cars, exclusive clothing. It is considered the color of individualists, associated with professionalism, strength, seriousness and self-confidence. However, you should always think about your use case - in some cultures black is associated with death or treason. On the other hand, in some cultures, black is a symbol of life. Think carefully about who your target group is - for this purpose, it is worth to focus on your mobile application users' personas - which will also appear on our blog in a short time.

How many colors should I use in my UI design?

It is worth to follow the 60-30-10 rule. 60% of a page's color scheme should be the main color, 30% would be an additional color, and the 10% left – an accent color. Ideally, the page's color scheme should use 3 to 5 different colors.

The psychology of color is concerned on what effect they have on a person. Colors have a significant influence on the human mind. Properly planned colors will not only have a positive effect on the mood, but also significantly increase the conversion of new customers.

How to choose your color set?

You can use the color wheel - a set of colors placed on a circle. Thanks to several methods, you can choose the right shades that will almost always match. Popular rules of thumb for choosing colors are:

Primary colors

In the RYB color model, the primary colors are red, yellow and blue. The three secondary colors - green, orange and purple - are created by mixing two primary colors. The next six higher colors are created by mixing primary and secondary colors.

Analogous colors

This pattern is made up of colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually fit snugly and create a calm and comfortable pattern. They are common in nature and are pleasing to the eye. Make sure that there is adequate contrast difference between the selected analog colors. The third color should be used as an accent (along with black, white or gray).

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Triadic colors

Triadic color schemes use colors that are evenly distributed around the color wheel. Their combinations can be very vivid, even if you use unsaturated variants of colors. To use triadic harmonies successfully, the colors should be carefully balanced - let one of the colors dominate, accentuated by the others.

Dividing/complementary colors

Dividing colors are a variation of complementary colors. In addition to the primary color, it uses two complementary colors. This scheme has the same visual contrast as complementary colors but is less saturated. The dividing-complementary color scheme is a good choice for beginners because it is hard to overwork.

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Rectangle diagram

This diagram uses four colors arranged in two complementary pairs. This works best when one of the colors would be the dominant color. Pay attention to the balance between warm and cold colors in the design.

Square diagram

The square diagram is similar to a rectangle, but all the colors are evenly distributed over the color wheel. This diagram works best the same as the rectangle diagram - when one of the colors is dominant. Pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors in the design.

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Narzędzia przydatne w wyborze kolorów

The colors of your mobile application will be better matched if you use dedicated tools for this purpose. Here are the most popular ones:

  • Google Adobe Color – a free tool that allows you to easily select colors for your application. The main tool is the color wheel, where you can choose colors using available options such as triad, analog, complementary or monochrome colors. You can also choose your own set of colors.
  • Paletton – a program similar to Google Adobe Color. It helps you create beautiful color schemes in no time. It has the function of presenting a specific color palette on examples.
  • Color Wheel – a tool that suggests additional colors to match the one that was chosen by us.
  • Colorpalettes – a site worth using as inspiration. It has color palettes with photos.
  • Colorzilla – Chrome and Mozilla plugin that allows you to check the color on any website with a color picker.
  • Convertacolor – helps to convert the color name, e.g. from RGB to CMYK.

Summary

As you can see, analysis of selected colors and their importance in both mobile and web application design is crucial. Be sure to test different colors and shades to find the most effective one. Use psychology of color for your business. At iMakeable, we strictly focus on colors used in web design interfaces - we use the battle-proven principles of color selection and UX/UI Design.

Author

Kornelia Bekasiak

Kornelia is one of the members of iMakeable's Design Team. Her main focus is Web Application Design and User Experience.

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