How Your Website Can Use Colors That Increase Sales
- Improve product and company brand familiarity
- Highlight specific product elements
- Provide customers an effective, easy-to-use website that boosts purchases
According to Psychology Today, color preferences are deeply rooted responses that may not be rational, but have a powerful influence over our choices. So, how a person feels about a website’s color scheme may determine whether they purchase or use a service. Top Design Firms conducted a survey to learn whether customers consider a website’s color scheme and what colors they prefer. We found that nearly 4 in 10 people (39%) care more about website color than any other component of web design. Companies looking to increase their sales and business online should spin the color wheel and think critically about which color choices will be most effective for their audience.
- 39% of respondents appreciate color more than any other component of a website’s design, suggesting that companies should make color selection a priority to increase sales and build customer loyalty.
- When consumers visit a website for the first time, 22% of respondents find themselves looking for eye-catching colors. But, 21% of consumers will leave a site because of outlandish colors. Businesses must strike a balance between eye-catching and garish colors in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
- Consumers prefer primary (26%), complementary (21%), and analogous (20%) color schemes. Companies should consider their products and services before selecting which color scheme works best.
- 46% of people say that their favorite color to see in a website is blue, while only 23% say their favorite color for website design is yellow. Businesses should think critically about their color selection and tailor their color schemes to consumer preferences.
- Different audiences think differently about colors on a website: 26% of women believe that businesses should not use yellow, while 23% of men think that companies should not use orange.
- 43% of respondents of ages 18 to 24 favor the color purple in websites, but only 17% of people from ages 44 to 54 share the same sentiment.
- 19% of respondents associate positive emotions with cooler color hues, while 14% relate best to warmer hues. Companies should choose color shades based on how consumers are likely to respond emotionally.
- Only 8% of respondents notice whitespace when viewing a website for the first time. Whitespace is an important strategy for businesses if they want a successful website design.
Draw or Repel Audiences with Eye-Catching Colors
For good reasons or bad, website colors stand out in a buyer’s journey. When visiting a company’s website for the first time, 22% of consumers look for eye-catching colors. In contrast, 21% of consumers will leave a website if they find the colors to be outlandish or excessive. Miranda Yan, founder of VinPit, a VIN lookup company, believes that color is important to web design. “Color is a vital aspect of a company’s brand as it reflects its first impression on customers,” Yan said. “Color reflects the identity of a firm and resembles emotions, feelings, and experiences.” Businesses need to strike a balance between vibrant and headache-inducing when selecting colors for their website. Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy, a residential and commercial painting service, recommends looking at outside parties for website inspiration. “Choose primary and secondary colors first, and then overall style for your website,” Kazimierski said. “Get some inspiration from similar businesses or businesses in your industry.” To strike a balance between eye-catching and overwhelming, Kazimierski recommends using neutral colors for text backgrounds. “You want color to highlight certain features and help guide a reader’s eye over a page,” Kazimierski said. Bright marketing colors grab attention, which is important when selling or promoting a product. Cody Miles, founder of Ashore, an online creative software, believes companies should keep quantity and pairing in mind when selecting colors for their websites. “A website only needs four or five colors, and of those colors, only a few need to be vibrant,” Miles said. “There are exceptions, but the majority of businesses could stand to benefit from limiting their bright colors.” Miles also believes that the right color choice depends heavily on the industry. A vibrant color may work well for a children’s toy company, but it might not work as well for a suit brand. “If a company is an energetic organization whose target is youth [and it] uses the color of a very dull shade, it won’t comply with their audience,” Yan said. H&M, a fashion brand for men and women, uses vibrant colors such as green, pink, and blue to attract attention to the sales and magazine content featured on their homepage. Their website is able to strike the balance between engaging and calm by using eye-catching colors with natural tones. Rothy’s, a sustainable shoe brand, uses subdued colors to attract users to their products. Rothy’s website strategically pairs their shoes with neutral fashions to make the shoes stand out and appealing to potential customers. Out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged, but in order to sell products, it is important for companies to be sensible when deciding what colors to feature on their websites.
Attract Consumers With Primary Color Schemes
Sometimes the right choice is the simplest one. More than one-quarter of consumers (26%) like primary color schemes, including red, yellow, and blue, more than any other color scheme. In addition to primary colors, consumers prefer complementary colors (21%), which are colors across from each other on the color wheel such as red and green, orange and blue. They also prefer analogous colors (20%), which are groups of three colors next to each other such as blue, blue-green, and green. Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, a reviews platform, believes that companies, depending on their industry, should use solid primary colors and complementary accents. “Color plays a big role in psychology,” Costa said. “A customer’s journey is a psychological one; it matters what colors you use for your site.” Miles believes that primary colors may be popular because of their association with childhood, but also acknowledges that primary colors are bold and complement each other well. “[Primary colors] are bold, and they follow a triadic color scheme - they work very well together,” Miles said. Many may argue that primary colors are the most basic colors, however, they are the colors that are used to create all others. “According to color theory, colors that are next to each other are too similar and will clash, but two colors directly opposite each other or three colors evenly spaced will work together in harmony,” Miles said. If possible, businesses should choose a primary color as their main color and then complement it with accented, secondary colors to create the best visual pairing.
Highlight Blue and Avoid Yellow in Web Designs
Companies should feel encouraged if their website follows a blue color scheme, but if you’re using a lot of yellow, it might be time to rethink your website’s design. Consumers prefer when websites use blue (46%) the most compared to other colors. Experts say that for many people, blue represents stability and reliability. Businesses looking to project a stable image to their customers should find ways to use blue in their websites. Karen Bluestein, CEO of Cary Communications, a marketing agency, sees the popularity of blue firsthand. “Almost every client of mine either already has a company color palette that includes blue or requests blue to be included in their new branding,” Bluestein said. “Blue is used by banks, insurance companies, and many other trustworthy industries.” Bluestein believes that the color blue indicates honesty, consistency, and trustworthiness. Kazimierski echoes Bluestein’s thoughts. “Much like blue jeans, it’s a color that’s trustworthy and dependable,” Kazimierski said.
Yellow Can Create Visual Fatigue for Users
On the other hand, nearly one-quarter of consumers (23%) think that businesses should avoid using yellow on their websites. Yellow does create an idea of warmth and brightness, but an excess of yellow may result in visual fatigue. Yellow can cause alarming feelings for users. Plus, it is sometimes difficult to read on a computer screen. James Walsh, a public speaker and entrepreneur, works for businesses across the US in diverse industries. “[Yellow and orange] are too bright, and for lack of a better term, too ‘out there’,” Walsh said. While some businesses use bright colors sparingly as accented colors, Walsh is completely against using yellow in web design. “I see no point in spending time trying to incorporate yellow and orange when there are plenty of other colors with a better track record of enticing website visitors,” Walsh said. Businesses that want to use colors to increase sales should address audience preferences and end user experience to make a profit.
Different Audiences Favor Certain Colors
Bright colors have a reputation for fun – but not everybody agrees. Color preferences on websites can differ based on age and gender. Twenty-six percent (26%) of women think businesses should avoid yellow, while 23% of men believe companies should avoid orange. Yellow and orange are very attention-grabbing and bright colors. For some, however, orange represents danger and caution. “It’s likely subconscious, but most businesses don’t want consumers to associate their site with orange traffic signs and yellow police line tape,” Miles said. Companies using colors that increase sales should avoid any negative associations that their consumers might feel.
Blue for a boy?
Both women and men prefer blue and green the most on websites.
- Half of women (50%) and 45% of men favor blue the most.
- Nearly 30% of men and 34% of women say green is their preferred choice of color on a website.
Color preferences are geared towards personal experience, according to Miles. “Most of our associations with colors come from our experience navigating the world,” Miles said. Color preferences also may reflect personality traits, according to Yan. Specifically, cool colors such as blue and green are most associated with calm natures. “Preferring blue & green tend to show a calm nature whereas yellow and orange are more geared towards aggression,” Yan said.
We Will Never Be Royals
Even purple, a color some consider to be royal, is not universally popular. 43% of respondents from the ages of 18 to 24 prefer purple on company websites, an outlying opinion compared to older generations. Only 17% of respondents from the ages of 45 to 54 selected purple as their color of choice. “Purple is a rather melancholic color,” Miles said. “Younger generations are increasingly more in touch with their emotions, melancholy included.” Bright and muted colors attract Millennials and Gen Zers. Older generations look for practical and classic color palettes, but Gen Zers are also drawn to retro-classic colors that include olive greens, mint, coral, and various shades of purple. Bluestein is seeing purple rise in popularity amongst her clients. “Earlier, my clients thought pinks and purples were too feminine,” Bluestein said. “Millennials like purple because it's different and stands out.” Bluestein says that newer companies she works with are experimenting with different color palettes such as purple, orange, and pale gray. She finds that older companies rarely use purple in website designs. As audiences grow, businesses might need to evolve their color choices to match their target audience's preferences.
Use Cool Hues For Positive Emotional Responses
Different colors produce different emotions, so it’s important to choose the right one if your business is looking to evoke an emotional response. Nineteen percent (19%) of respondents associate positive emotional responses with cool hues such as blues and purples, compared to 14% that selected warm hues. Miles believes that people’s preferences regarding the hue of colors depends on how hues are paired. “Blue and purple together tend to create a soothing environment, while blue and green tend to create a peaceful, yet alert environment,” Miles said. “Purple and green together aren’t calming at all.” Depending on what your business’s message is, it is necessary to choose shades of marketing colors that meet the response you expect from a customer.
Avoid Color Overload with Whitespace
Using a splash of white within your web designs is a great way to add contrast to your website. While only 8% of consumers notice whitespace when viewing a website for the first time, successful website design includes whitespace. Whitespace creates balance in a website. It helps users to space out their website journey and not feel overwhelmed with excessive text and images. Giving consumers a quick break while browsing your content makes white one of the top colors that increase sales. “It helps in distinguishing between themes of different pages by keeping it clean and simple,” Yan said. “Whereas if any other color were used in its place, then the page would become very messy.” Sarah Aileen is a business owner and artist that believes whitespace lets websites breathe. “Without whitespace, a design would be too cluttered to make an impact,” Aileen said. “Think of the analogy of hearing a solo in a quiet auditorium versus trying to pick out one voice during the chatter of intermission.” Whitespace can easily be ignored or pushed to the side as “blank” space, but businesses should understand the benefits before their website goes live.
Businesses Should Consider How Impactful Colors Can Increase Sales
A successful use of colors on a website can help businesses thrive within their marketplace. When designing their websites, companies should:
- Strike a balance between eye-catching and natural colors that will attract and not repel audiences.
- Focus on primary color schemes and other colors that work in harmony.
- Highlight blues and greens to build trust, but avoid the overuse of yellow and orange to prevent negative associations.
- Think about different audiences and how their color preferences evolve.
- Create positive emotional responses using cool hues that calm audiences.
- Invest in whitespace to organize your content and avoid clutter.
Businesses must think about their target messaging and audiences during a website design when selecting colors that increase sales.
About The Survey
Top Design Firms surveyed 500 consumers in the U.S. to learn more about their thoughts regarding website design. 40% of survey respondents were female, 36% were male, and 23% chose not to identify themselves. 13% were between the ages of 18 and 34 years old; 29% were between 35 and 55, and 35% were 55 and older. 24% didn’t specify their age. Respondents were from the South (33%), Midwest (31%), West (23%), and Northeast (12%).
About The Author
Anna Peck is a content writer & editor at Top Design Firms, a business resource for top-ranked web and digital firms.
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