Somewhere over the rainbow

Colours are more than just a design choice, they can affect how we feel and you need to keep this in mind when designing a website. Added to that, there are colours which simply don’t work online.

Colour is all around us and we all have colours we prefer – even a favourite one. It isn’t just a case of us liking a particular shade, colours can also affect the way we feel. As Oscar Wilde said: “Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

Green for instance, can have a calming effect. It has strong associations with nature and is often used in bedrooms, for instance, to aid sleep. Also, guests on a television show will usually be asked to wait in a ‘green room’ to relax. Dig deeper and research shows that green can even aid our ability to read text, as well as being a symbol of fertility – in the 15th century, wedding dresses would traditionally be made in the colour.

It’s not surprising then that when considering the branding for a business that colour is a huge part of this process. If we think of some of the big brands, then there are colours which we associate with them. For instance, EasyJet and orange; Coca Cola and red; Facebook and blue.

We all have preconceived ideas about colour and that will reflect on how we view a business. Bright colours generally suggest a ‘fun’ business perhaps, while more muted tones might suggest a more conservative one. Of course, this is a generalisation and there are many businesses which chose to stand out, using colours which might not be seen as traditional.

When branding a company, it is really important though to not just consider how potential customers will react to the corporate colours selected but how they will work on a website. While a designer might have got very creative with a brand, it is so important to make sure that it looks right on screen.

Generally speaking, most websites benefit from fewer colours – rather than a rainbow of hues. Often, as well, bright neon colours will just make customers want to put their sunglasses on when viewing a website. That’s not to say that you can’t use them but perhaps make them slightly less bright or use them to highlight certain aspects only.

Let’s also talk about yellow. It might be the corporate colour for some huge brands – think of the McDonald’s arches, as well as Nikon, Ikea, Hertz and Shell – but, of all the pantones, it is the hardest to represent on a computer screen. On some screens it might appear pale yellow, while, on others, a muddy mustardy colour. If you want to reproduce your logo and branding crisply and consistently across all devices, then yellow is the colour to avoid.

Bright blue can also be difficult colour on a website as it is intense and can be ‘aggressive’ towards other colours. It never really works well as the background colour on a website.

Engaging with customers is key and you want to get your message across as quickly and easily as possible. For this reason, think very hard about how certain coloured fonts read when placed on particular colours. Does it then make the text harder – or hopefully – easier to read at a glance? For instance, pale light colours on a white background are often hard to see.

If there is a particular message – perhaps a call to action? – that you want to catch the eye of a potential customer, then make that stand out with colour, be that bright or contrasting.

There are colours which work together better than others and, to establish which ones they are, it’s worth looking at a colour wheel – there are plenty online. This isn’t a new approach; in fact the colour wheel concept was first invented in 1666 by Isaac Newton who mapped the colour spectrum onto a circle. Artists and designers have been using colour wheels since then to establish colour combinations which work well together.

If you’d like explore this subject of colour on your website, then do get in touch with our team at Lake Solutions.

Article Details

Ian Jepp
29 March 2021