When someone visits a new website, picks up a paper, or glances at a brochure stand they make a snap decision. As quickly as possible they will decide if what they’re looking at is what they’re looking for. It might take them 20 seconds or happen in an instant. Either way, it happens long before they’ve had time to make a well thought out judgement of the whole of what they are looking at.
Think about it. When you pick up a newspaper you glance at 80% of the headlines and read about 20% of the articles. Why? All those unread stories weren’t what you were looking for, and you decided that in a few seconds. So, in the newspaper business headlines are vital… actually in every business.
Websites have a lot more going on than just the headlines. So does a brochure or a full-color mailing. There are colors, photos, graphics, and even video (on websites, not on brochures yet.) All of it can contribute to a prospect’s decision to stay or leave. All of it, but I’m just going to talk about colors for now.
Colors can convey information, along with being pleasant or not. Have you ever seen a red pickle jar? No, they’re green. So, when you want pickles you look for the green jar.
Is there a fast food chain that doesn’t use red in its logo? I can think of only one: Subway. Even their colors tell us that they’re totally different from those greasy burger/pizza/chicken joints, which all use red in their logo.
Beyond the information in colors there is color preference. Everyone has a favorite color or two. What’s interesting is our choice in colors might not be totally random. USA Today gave a color test to its panel of 877 CEOs. The results were that the CEOs “were three times more likely to favor magenta than the public at large.” They were also less likely to opt for yellow or red.
Am I saying that if you use magenta and not yellow or red on your website you’ll convert more CEOs? No, but I’m thinking it pretty loudly. Who knows. There doesn’t seem to be enough published research to say whether there’s anything to this notion that color preference and personality are linked. If you’re getting enough traffic to your site, you could test it for yourself.
Now, I took this color test too and was surprised by the results. It’s a personality test, where all you do is click on colors. It decided my personality type was The Creative, with a secondary type of The Persuader. Yes, it suggested I pursue a career in advertising, marketing, writing, or web design. That’s what I do all right, weird.
You can take the test too, it doesn’t take long. At the bottom of your results page you can click to see a list of 50 careers that suit you. Ignore it, it’ll cost you ten bucks to see the top 25. Let me know what you thought of your results.
One last thing about color. Color combinations can be harmonious or not. If you’re looking to pick out a color scheme then it’s worth using a tool to be sure you get colors that work with each other. The tool I’ve used for years is ColorSchemeDesigner.com. Adobe also now has one that’s integrated into all their design software at kuler.adobe.com.
Got any interesting ideas about color? Share them below!