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50 Shades Of Perception: Leveraging Colors To Impact Your Web Conversion Rate

By Eva Barnes , Aug 2 2016
colors to impact web

Featured Image: iStock/TommL

Do you feel a sense of calmness and tranquility washing over you when you are surrounded by blue skies and sprawling green fields? Or perhaps a stir of alarm when staring at a red sign?

Color has been known to exercise a potent impact on the decisions and behaviors of people, and this fact has been harnessed all too well by the marketers and designers alike, especially when it comes to designing a website for an online business. Oftentimes, the choice of colors is the only factor that dictates consumer purchasing decisions, since research has shown that more than 85% buyers tout color to be their primary reason for purchase, while 93% focus on visual appearance only. Needless to mention, your choice of colors can make or break your business website.

choice of colors

While brick and mortar physical stores have the benefit of flashy displays, diligently arranged products, exuberant decors, and overtly friendly salesmen to capture the visitors, online businesses have nothing but their websites to interact with customers. The main challenge is that visitors landing on your website have an attention span of half a minute on average. In fact, it is your lucky day if your website could engage a semi-interested visitor for more than 10 seconds. Astoundingly, in this short expanse of time, 9 out of 10 purchasing decisions are made on the basis of color alone, according to WebpageFX’s research. If you fail to grab their attention instantaneously, you might lose them forever.


In order to leverage colors to entrance your audience and convey your intended brand message across,and lead to more conversions,it is imperative to familiarize yourself with the color wheel, and the psychological effect exerted by each color. Since each color is perceived differently by different people, it is imperative to not only know the physiological impact of each tone, but also the cultural implications and demographics in mind to create a lasting impression.

Next, you need to know how to use the colors in the right way, with the right audience, and at the right time. In addition, it is prudent to research your intended audience diligently, the personality of your brand, and your competitive environment. For instance, when you are choosing a color palette for a website that sells kid toys, what color palette intuitively springs to mind? Definitely not black, gray, or any other drab colors that kids steer away from. Instead, you’ll think of some vibrant and bright colors, such as yellows, greens, and reds with a splash of blue and pink perhaps.

Since capturing, and retaining, the attention of visitors is indispensable for boosting the conversion rates, checkout our detailed infographic on how to choose colors for your website to select the most optimal color palette for your website.

Color Consideration For A Website

If you want your color palette to work the way you want, it is important to define their context. Your product or brand may already have certain associations that could contradict or complement the color palette. Before you decide on a color scheme, here are a few factors you need to consider:

Brand Identity

Your brand goes a long way in elucidating your website, your business, and your entire identity to your potential clients. Before deciding on a color palette for your website, you need to determine what you want your brand to articulate. The right color scheme can depict who you are as a company. Brainstorm about what you want your brand identity to be. Think about what it is that makes your brand stand out from competitors.

Participants in a study published in the African Journal of Business Management considered the red of Coca-Cola conveys energy, happiness, youth, vividness, and stimulus.

Coca Cola

Participants regarded “Hermes” as differentiation, Youth, uniqueness, ego, courage, and in vogue.


According to the participants, the green of “Starbucks” can be construed as staidness, youth, leisure, quiet, and comfort.


Participants perceived the blue of “IBM” as professional, staid, reliable, novel, cool, and trustworthy.



Research has proven that different colors invoke different emotions and feelings in people, whether you are cognizant of these sentiments or not. While different colors may stir different emotions in people and there is no one formula to fit all, certain colors exude vibes that are unanimously agreed on. If you want to want to convert visitors into potential customers, make sure your choice of colors tap into their emotional pool and resonates with their perception of the brand.

For instance red is a dominant color that depicts strength, passion, and excitement, while yellow is the epitome of optimism, cheerfulness, and happiness, and instills a feeling of inspiration and confidence in the audience. Colors can serve as a subliminal language and reflect a company’s personality. As a rule of thumb, brighter colors work well for high energy brands, while muted colors best cater to mature brands.

In a study, participants were asked to associate descriptive words with colors;

  • 75% people associated red with “passion”, “energy”, and “anger”.
  • Yellow and Orange elicited more optimistic and jovial descriptions.
  • Blue and green were designated as “calming”, “clean”, “relaxing”, and “peaceful”.
  • 69% of participants dubbed black as being synonymous with “death” or “evil”.
  • Over 88% participants deemed white as related to “euphoria”, “innocence”, “happiness”, and “purity”.
  • Pink was associated with femininity by 70% of the participants.
  • Purple, Grey, and Brown had less unanimous deductions.


Icon: Flaticon


While the right splash of colors is indispensable to sprucing up your brand image and cementing your brand message, the prowess of white spaces should never be underestimated as well. The right balance of empty spaces offers your potential clients or visitors some breathing space. You don’t want your audience to feel overwhelmed by the color vomit and a barrage of overflowing information and bounce off your website, so it’s prudent to incorporate turfs of neutral hues sporadically to anchor your website and make your content more readable. “White spaces” need not inevitably be white. They can be any neutral, light shade that complements the rest of your site palette.


This factor is all the more imperative if you are designing for a personal, freelance, or a sole-proprietor website. People are tired of dull, run-of-the-mill websites and look for something different that catches their eyes and piques their curiosity. The colors could serve to reflect upon the owner. Start by choosing colors and tints that entice you naturally, and ask those close to you to define colors that remind them of you or your brand.


Another crucial thing to keep in mind is that the colors should become each other seamlessly, without popping out in stark discord. You can always refer to a color wheel to seek out complementary colors that work well impeccably. Play around with colors until your website feels harmonious and meticulously blended well, so that the visitors feel calm and serene while perusing your site.


Even if you aspire to glean a simple design, it’s wise to ensure that you imbue enough contrast on your website to draw attention. Contrasting colors make your images pop, render your text easier to read, and grab the attention of your audience. Monotonic websites look dull and droning, and might make the visitors not even want to spare those desperately needed 10 seconds for conversion.

Accessibility And Visual Appeal

While your color palette should indubitably be eye-grabbing, it should be accessible first. Make sure that your color palette attracts and impresses most people, and compels them to linger for just a little while longer. Also keep in mind that some people suffer from visual problems, such as color blindness. While these people belong to a minority sector of your audience group, their needs have to be addressed as well. Make sure that no one has difficulty reading the content or comprehending it, otherwise, your visitors will run to the welcoming arms of the competitors.


This is by far the most imperative step when choosing a color scheme for your website, as it can make or break your online presence before you could blink. Yes, you want to stick to a color scheme that pleases you, but remember that ultimately you are creating a brand to be perceptible to your visitors, clients, and customers. This translates into one fact: the customer is always right!

Your color palette should ultimately appeal to your audience, since they are the ones you want to entice in and turn into customers. Do your homework and unearth who your audience is, their demographics, predilections, age groups, and gender, before you try your hands at potential color combinations. Always keep the ultimate purpose of your website to the forefront, which is to boost engagements and augment conversion.

Ideal color palettes for Websites designed for:



In the age of rebellion, heavy metal music, and hardcore gaming, teenage boys are open to experimenting with more complex and gothic colors due to their exposure to gaming and computer graphics programs. Boys in this age group are known to display a penchant for Splash white, Charcoal Black, and denim blue.


Crimson red, jade black, and tangerine orange are some of the most alluring hues for this particular group. Some teenage girls have also exhibited a proclivity for varying tints of pink and purple. However, as they touch their late teens, they become more impartial to black, relating to a psychological need for black as they make the significant transition into the sophistication of adulthood.



Boys in their prime have shown a predilection for Carolina blue, hickory brown, and quartz silver.


Young ladies in their tweens are especially attracted to Sand gold, cherry red, green, eggplant purple, and carnation pink.

Middle Age


Misty grey, Pebble black, and Smokey teal win the race for websites intended for middle aged men.


Pantone plum, pine green, and apricot pink appear to be objects of fascination for middle aged women.

Old Age


Yellow appears to be the most repulsive color for this target niche, unless it is a pale butter yellow. Fondness for clear colors, such as shades of greens, pinks, and fresh blues, and cleaner colors, such as blue greens in place of olive greens has been observed. Old men are generally more comfortable with the calming effects of purple, pink, green, and blue, than the stimulating, and bold overtures of yellow, orange, and red. Although, some are partial to choosing muted blue based pale yellows and reds.


Women in this niche are predisposed towards more subdued hues. As they grow older, women often go for purples, running the gamut from violet and deep purple, to lavender, mauve, and plums.

Corporate Color Differences

  • Darker colors are employed to reflect upon the grave nature of a business; gray, black, indigo, dark red, dark green, and dark blue.
  • Lighter and brighter hues are best at adding to the lightheartedness and perkiness of a business; purple, pink, bright blue, bright green, yellow, orange, and red.

Class Color Differences

  • Blue collar workers and working class respond well to the warm and vivid secondary and primary colors of the rainbow. 
  • More opulent people are more inclined towards sophisticated and intricate colors – tertiary colors, and tints and shades of secondary and primary colors.

Education Based Color Preferences

  • According to multiple researches, the more educated your audience is, the more sophisticated and refined their color partialities are. Erudite people fare best with tertiary colors and hues touting unusual names. For instance ask people if they prefer brown or mocha. Most would say mocha even if you show them the same hues of BROWN!

For the same reason, jelly beans with fancy names such as razzmatazz have more chances of being chosen than jelly beans with simple names such as lemon yellow. Broad education and the use of internet has manifested its effects on color presences as well.

  • On the other hand, less educated people respond well to the simpler basic secondary and primary colors. Garish shades and flashy displays are also welcomed.

Climate Based Color Preferences

If your website is intended for a more specific or local audience, this factor cannot be overlooked. In general, palettes that replicate the colors pertaining to their climate resonate well with people and make them feel at home on your website. 

For instance, people residing in colder climates acclimatize more easily to cooler and subdued shades, while people delving in the warm tropics show a predilection for bursts of warm, upbeat, and animated colors that mirror their vivacious surroundings.

  • In the Scandinavian countries, fresh and bright whites, yellows, and blues are all the rage. 
  • In Switzerland, chic and elegant tints such as dark blue, gray, burgundies, and dark reds are common. 
  • In South America, the warm bright pinks, yellows, oranges, and reds are popular. 
  • Australian Aborigines relish the greens, blues, oranges, and earthy reds that are found on the outskirts of Australia.

Industry Based Color Preferences

  • Energy: Blue, Green, Yellow
  • Airline: Blue, white
  • Finance: Purple, Blue, Green

(Blue instils a sense of expertise, confidence, security, and trust, while green goes towards promising a peaceful, hassle-free, easy environment; which is exactly what a bank aspires to offer.)

(Being the color associated with royalty, purple promises a sense of exuberance and utmost luruxy.)

  • Technology: Red, Purple, Blue, Orange, Black
  • Food: Red, Green, Yellow

(Red creates a sense of urgency and whets appetite, while yellow is the color of optimism and cheerfulness. The colors are prudently chosen to reinstate the tagline of the brand, “I’m lovin’ it”)

  • Household: Green, Yellow
  • Cars: Red, Brown, Black, Blue
  • Clothing : Brown, Black, White
  • Healthcare: White, Purple, Blue, Green, Orange
  • Agriculture: Green, Red, Blue, Brown

Using Colors Properly To Expand Conversions

According to the Von Restorff Effect, elements on your website that stand out are more likely to impinge a lasting impression on the minds of your visitors than items that blend into the background. To achieve this effect, choose colors for CTAs and important buttons that are not used at another place on your site and are in sharp contrast.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a wise measure to employ bright secondary and primary colors for your Call to actions. Studies have stressed that colors such as yellow, orange, green, and red convert best, especially when used specifically for Call to actions. As expected, darker hues like dark purple, and shades of brown, grey, and black claim a lower conversion rate. If you have decided on a secondary or primary call to action, one of these darker tints can be used for your secondary CTA to draw more attention towards the vibrant main CTA.

While your branding specialists and web designers must be especially concerned with color aesthetics only, it’s important to remember that conversion isn’t necessarily related to what looks good to you. In addition, it is imperative to avoid a color vomit on your website. Too many colors can create chaos and confusion. Your selection of colors have to incorporate the right balance of achromatic and white colors, with aptly placed chromatic hues. Contrast is the key and your vital conversion steps should be conspicuous and literally jump off the page for them to have the maximum impact. By using the right colors in the right way, you accomplish much more than conversions; you improve your brand recognition and make sure that your website strikes all the right cords. Remember to keep it clean, bright, and simple; something designed exclusively for improving the customer experience on your website.

About The Author

Eva is a marketing major with a keen interest in web design. She is also an explorer and loves to dig into web trends from mobile apps to visual communication and everything in between. Feel free to send her your web design queries or blog related feedback in the comments below.

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