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The psychology of color in web development

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The psychology of color in web development

What about color should you know as a web developer

Mwendwa Bundi Emma's photo
Mwendwa Bundi Emma
·Feb 20, 2022·

5 min read

As a web developer, you sure do know that color plays such a huge role in how users perceive the website, how compelling it gets and the persuasion effect they get. I know you have probably interacted with so much of the color wheels and the numerous guides in picking the perfect color combo for different websites.

In this article, I let you into the research and findings that have over the years shown just how important color is.

The famous theory of color by Isaac Newton, in the 1600's lay ground for numerous discoveries on color and its effects. Isaac Newton came up with the famous color wheel which displayed the primary colors, secondary colors and tertiary colors. Color knowledge has been and still is instrumental in picking the right hues and displaying applied visual design. This also means that you do not settle randomly on a color, the color itself must mean something.

According to a research done by Institute for Color, findings did show that 84.7% of the total respondents ascertain that color accounts for more than half of the factors important for making a decision. Another research by the same institute showed that people make a subconscious judgment within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone. This could be in a product, an environment or even a person. Such mind blowing findings reveal that we as web developers cannot afford to fumble on the role of color in our work.

Jan V. White, a graphic designer played a huge role in writing and documenting on color, designs, typography and so much more in his career that spanned four decades. In his famous book, Color for Impact , Jan V. White wrote about the ten commandments on using color. He goes ahead to display the functional use of color by how he displays the said commandments in his book. Take a look at the 10 commandments - as put by him below:

Thou shah combine visual appeal with meaning.

Color is appealing. In our information-overloaded society, the more appealing the message, the more likely is it to capture the attention of its audience. But prettiness is not enough. Color must also mean something.

Thou shah assign color deliberately to fulfill specific functions.

Color is not exciting by itself—it is everywhere. Only when it is coupled with intellectual meaning can it achieve valued significance.

Thou shah use color to guide viewers to fast comprehension.

Color is different from black that is what makes it special in print. Use it sparingly, with discrimination.

Thou shah avoid weakening color's power by overuse

Color is noticed only if it is bright enough, large enough, conspicuous enough, rare enough.

Thou shah not use color just because it is available.

Never use color just to dress up the publication. Use it only if the message is the better for it. it must be more than embellishment.

Thou shah use color to explain, not to decorate.

Don't be content with making the publication "pleasing to the eye." Use color to lead the eye to worthy material.

Thou shah use color to sharpen the delivery of your message.

Decide where the greatest value for the reader lies, then use color to make it stand out. Color must work for its living, it must add value.

Thou shah establish character by consistent color use.

Predictability creates comfort, recognition, personality. Build identity with disciplined color, type, spacing and page architecture.

Thou shah use color to provide continuity.

Most publications are part of a series "Belonging" is advantageous both to the item and its publisher. Each issue is your representative.

Thou shah plan for color use from the start of the project.

Colorizing by retrofitting cannot do justice to color's capacity as a functional, rational, intellectual material Plan for its purposeful utilization.

You can access more from the Color for impact book by Jan V. White using the link here. When I first read this book and more specifically the ten commandments, I knew I had to start doing better and avoid the complacency of picking a color just because I love it or its appealing to my eye. It is not about me as web developer but its about the users. This also means you have to advice your clients accordingly!

There is also the need for applied visual design as used in web development which implies the use of color, typography, animations and page layout to deliver an unique message. This means that as much as color plays a huge role in design, it cannot be used in isolation, different facets play different roles.

No need to say that the users of your website will first get a color stimulation before they read the compelling message or interact any further with the animations or any other effect. Pay better attention to how you choose and display the colors in your website. Let Jan V. White ten commandments guide you if need be.

In all things, remember the words of the famous Russian painter, Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky “Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”

Thank you for reading. Let me know what you think in the comment section and I will see you in the next article. Bye.