There are thousands of infographics, images and guides explaining how different colors affect our emotions. Usually, these infographics look something like this:

  • Red = anger
  • Blue = trust
  • Green = health

A never-ending list explaining exactly what color creates what emotion.

Countless businesses use these guides to determine the color of their brand, the background and hero image on their landing pages or the color of their call to action buttons.

The problem?

Color psychology doesn’t really work that way.

Thinking that every single colour creates one specific emotion for every person in the world is simply incorrect.

Most businesses aren’t aware of this, they follow these guides blindly and unfortunately using the wrong color can actually set you back or even hurt your conversions.

If you use color psychology the right way, you can influence your target audience’s decision process. Used correctly, You can help people feel the way you want them to feel and increase conversions.

So how do you use color psychology the right way?

That’s what I’ve covered in the color psychology guide in today’s article.

It’s a comprehensive guide and I won’t be covering everything here. I’ll include a few interesting findings and for the rest refer to the full article.

Here’s the full table of contents:

  • What color psychology really means (fo realz) and how it works
  • The emotional effect colors have on us (and your customers)
  • Myth busting: The biggest color psychology myth and how to avoid it
  • How color affects people (as in, your customers) on 3 different levels
  • Age, gender and other elements that affect color psychology
  • Mobile vs. desktop color psychology (yes, there’s a difference)
  • How to know what colors to use on your audience
  • How the most successful companies in the world use color psychology
  • A case study – How we use color psychology to grow conversions

How to choose the right colors for your audience

In order to really choose the colors that influence your visitors and help them convert, you’ll need to first identify what emotions influence your customer most.

You’ll need to first go through the process of identifying their emotional-drivers, the outcomes their searching for and the real reason behind their conversion.

Assuming you know what emotions you need to emphasize, you’ll then need to do the following to choose the colors that will create those emotions for your customers/visitors:

1 Behavioral data

The first thing you’ll want to do is go into Google Analytics or any other reporting tool you’re using and analyze your visitors’ behavior. The following metrics are a good place to start from:

  1. Identify their geographical location so you can determine the different cultures
  2. Language is also a great way to see the differences in culture in specific countries.
  3. Age and gender – we’ll dive more into why this further down
  4. Search terms – look into the words and terms people are using to get to your site or searching for on your site, this also gives a great indication to peoples’ hesitations, concerns and needs.

These metrics will help with choosing the right colors for your specific audience. For example, if you want to highlight emotions such as fun, excitement and energy you may gravitate automatically towards orange and red, however, if your target audience is from Ireland or South Africa that could be a mistake.

2 Age

Research shows that color preference changes as people get older. The basic “popular” colors such as red and blue stay high on most people’s lists but preferences to other colors such as yellow, green and others tend to change a lot.

“With maturity comes a greater liking for hues of shorter wavelength (blue, green, purple) than for hues of longer wavelength (red, orange, and yellow)”

If your audience belongs to a very specific age group, you may want to consider the chart above. Specifically with a more elderly audience, the colors will also impact their ability to read your content and feel safe.

3 Gender

In his research, Joe Hallock found that there are some significant differences in color preferences when it comes to gender.

Another study showed that men prefer bright colors and shades, while women prefer soft colors and tints.

While these studies show that men prefer the color blue significantly over women and that women place orange as the least favorite color, unless you have just one gender as a target market, I wouldn’t rush to change my color pallets without doing a more profound research, including all the metrics mentioned above.

4 Contrast

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a color is its contrast. It’s not just the color of a button or of the image we’re talking about, it’s every color on the page, including the background. Other than being persuasive and highlighting certain emotions, color must also be used to provide clarity and help people read your content. Make sure the colors you choose work with the entire page, support other elements and most importantly, the text.

5 Device

On mobile we behave differently than on desktop and we have a very different mindset. Mobile optimization in itself has its whole other category but know that we also feel differently about colors according to the size of screen we’re holding, where we are (e.g – office vs. bus) the time of day and even what type of day we’ve had.

While there aren’t many studies on the topic, it’s worth thinking about it when you choose your colors and considering making slight changes to the colors you’re using in your mobile designs to suit your visitors’ needs.

Conclusion

  • If you’re going to use color psychology (which you should), forget about the infographics and best practices people share and start doing your own research on your own audience. What worked for your competitor, will not necessarily work for you.
  • Color psychology is just part of your entire optimization strategy. If you want to truly optimize your funnels for higher conversions you need to take a step further into understanding your customer’s experiences, state of mind, culture and most importantly, their emotional-drivers. Only then can you truly utilize the power of color psychology to grow your conversions.

Forget Everything You Know About Color Psychology and Read This Guide

PS. Blue is most liked by both men and women. No wonder Facebook is blue 🙂
Or it could be just a lucky coincidence.

PPS. Sorry for the ugly Excel charts but a research community seems to really like them. I have no idea why anyone would.