Color affects everything from how the user feels to how they interact with them. Simply put, color is little more than just a decorative tool. Color is of the utmost importance to the user experience.
Let’s start with a general example: you’ve just finished designing a website for someone. It looks and functions exactly like a wireframe. Everyone in the development team appreciated the project, it’s cool. But the client doesn’t like him terribly, and no one can explain why.
Color may be the culprit. Different colors can evoke very strong emotions and violent reactions. It all depends, of course, on personal preference, partly on psychological and even social norms. Understanding these trends and user preferences can have a significant impact on the user experience.
Here’s what you need to know.
User expectations and preferences
The user experience primarily depends on the target audience for which your website or app is intended. Basic demographics such as gender or the region a user lives in can influence the perception of your design based on color. (You can read more about color and culture here.)
One of the most interesting effects of color on UX has to do with gender. Research has shown that there are different types of colors that are preferred for men and some for women.
Men tend to interact more with websites that have designs in darker, more saturated colors, such as the designs for VLNC Studio (image above).
Women tend to prefer websites with lighter, lighter designs and a muted color palette such as Tally (image below).
Some men get violent reactions from websites that use distinctively feminine colors: pastel pink, purple, yellow, etc.
More and more women tend to be put off by sites with harsh color schemes (dark backgrounds with rich red accents).
Neutral tones are most attractive to both sexes.
Color associations and meanings
Although not an exact science, colors have fairly clear emotional associations. Please note that some colors may fall into the extreme categories. These associations tend to work with other design elements to create an overall vibe.
When a user sees a specific color or combination of colors, it triggers an immediate reaction in the brain.
- Red: strength, danger, love / passion, hunger
- Yellow: energy, happiness, light, warmth
- Orange: creativity, determination, stimulation, encouragement
- Green: nature, growth, harmony, freshness
- Blue: Confidence, Trust, Calm
- Purple: magic, royalty, ambition, independence
You would expect Coca-Cola’s design elements to be red. The color is so close to the brand that it is called “Coke red”. Change the color and the brand will be destroyed. You won’t recognize him right away. The user is shocked and responds in a way that is not entirely expected. It may even seem that the drink tastes differently.
All these sensations are caused by a color change. It should be your first thought in your head, when you saw the image with green Coke it was something like “whatoo?”
This affected the user experience in relation to brand promotion.
Color is an important element in branding because it creates a special connection between the user and the design. Color tells users about the brand, what they are going to interact with.
Change the color or use something different from the brand and the user experience will suffer because site users may suddenly become confused or unsure of the brand they think they knew.
Associating colors with custom templates
Have you noticed how many sites use red or orange buttons?
There is a specific reason for this.
Bright colored buttons contrast well against the background of the site – red and orange stand out well against light or dark backgrounds. The use of buttons in this color scheme helps users to quickly find the elements of interest and make them want to interact with them, users quickly find the elements they need and they immediately know how to interact with them.
The key to the user experience is creating a comfortable environment for users and opportunities for interaction. The main thing is that everything should be clear and understandable, then the user will be satisfied.
Cruise uses ghost-style buttons with red text and the button also turns completely red when you hover over it. These are different versions of traditional monochromatic buttons, but there is a small question – how to interact with them? The color draws users’ attention to the button.
Net Bluez uses a bright orange button for the most important item in the navigation menu, it is immediately clear that the button must be pressed.
Try yourself in the design process, take the A / B Test to choose the color of the button. You will likely find that one color has a significantly higher conversion rate than another. (And it might not be the color you thought it would be.)
Conversion rates tend to increase when the color of buttons or links is in stark contrast to the rest of the design. So, even if you want to use a brand palette, choosing a contrasting color will be key to generating conversions that contribute to the overall user experience.
Take a look at the site below. Which colored button attracts your attention the most and do you want to click on it? (The original color is blue.)
Accessibility for all users
In general, the use of color is very important and has a huge impact on UX, but not on an emotional or psychological level. Everything is much more practical.
Color affects the user experience because it can make a design accessible, or vice versa.
For everyone to be able to perceive the design and interact with the content, users need clarity and readability. Using color palettes and contrast ratios that conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) can ensure that everyone can understand your choice of color palette.
Use color blind filters to help these users see what others see while using your site. How can this affect usability?
Think of color as a tool to help users interact better with the content on your website. This affects the user experience both on an emotional level and on a usability level.
The key to understanding how color affects UX is user testing. Color A / B tests can help you a lot with this.