Written by David
22nd April 2013 • 5 min read
If you’re like most small business owners, chances are you chose the colours of your website the same way you chose the paint for your bedroom walls: you like the look of it; it makes you feel good.
Maybe you let your designer choose the colours for you. You might have given some lip service to how customers would react to your choice of colours.
But do you really know what customers think of how your website looks?
Colour matters. If you’ve not given serious thought to the colours of your eCommerce site, you’re missing a trick.
So, what do you need to think about when it comes to colour?
What do Your Colours Say About You?
The colour of your site sends out a strong message about your brand identity. Together with any images on your site, it’s one of the first things customers notice when they visit your site.
A lot of research has gone into this. It even has its own name: colour psychology.
According to colour psychology, every colour has underlying meanings. It makes sense when you think about it. Colours, like words, are a way of communicating a message. Words with the same surface meaning can have very different underlying meanings. For example, think of the differences between bloke, geezer, dude, lad, gentleman, and guy – all words for men, but with very different connotations.
As with words, so with colours. Red grabs attention. It’s the colour of love, anger, and excitement. Red can mean warmth and comfort, or be a warning of impending danger.
Yellow is the colour of happiness and sunshine. It’s an optimistic colour.
Green reflects the harmony and growth of nature.
Blue conveys loyalty, masculinity and competence. It is the colour of trust and peace.
Colours have negative meanings too. Red is lust, yellow is cowardly, green is envy, and blue is cold and distant.
For more on this, Wikipedia provides a handy introduction to colour meanings.
What is your choice of colours saying about you? Are your colours supporting or undermining your brand personality?
Using Colour to Stand Out from the Crowd
In the 1930s, child psychiatrist Hedwig von Restorff tried to work out how to improve memory in children. She noticed if asked to remember a group of objects, children would most often recall any item that “stood out like a sore thumb”.
She called this the isolation effect. When something stands out from a group, we’re more likely to remember it.
You can use the isolation effect to your advantage in your eCommerce store, especially if you combine it with colour. If you want to draw attention to specific sections of your store (such as the “Add to Basket” or “Check Out” buttons), choose an isolation colour for them, different to any other colours in your store.
What Do Your Customers Think?
The ultimate test of whether colours work is not in their hidden meanings – though this is important to bear in mind – but in whether they help you sell more stuff.
The best choice of colours for your site is the one that drives the most sales.
You can discover what works best for your site by split testing different colours and colour combinations.
If you’ve yet to give serious thought to the colours of your online store, today is the time to start. Go beyond your favourite colours, and choose tones that reflect your brand, and that do the hard work of selling for you.
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