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Al Nahian
Al Nahian

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Color Psychology — Understand the Meaning of Colors

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Today, we will be learning deeply about Color Psychology which may help you in your design and development career. I hope you're going to enjoy reading the entire post.

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Color, or Colour, is the characteristic of visual perception described through color categories, with names such as Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, or Purple, etc.

This perception of color derives from the stimulation of photoreceptor cells by electromagnetic radiation.

In more simple words,
Color is the aspect of things that is caused by differing qualities of light being reflected or emitted by them.

"Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”
— Wassily Kandinsky

"Color Psychology in web design" is the most interesting part for the web designers in this post!

Sounds interesting, right? Then keep your eyes open and read.


#What is Color psychology

Color Psychology is the study of colors in relation to human behavior.

We react to colors based on a complex series of interactions between our personal tastes, our family upbringing, and our cultural background.

Every brand and business uses colors deliberately in their product designs, packaging, advertisements, and websites.


Classification of Color:

Colors can be broken down into three basic types.

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary colors

Learn more about Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors.

The effect of color can be classified in Warm Color and Cool Color.

Below, the definition of Warm and Cool is written in more detail.

#What is Warm color

Red, orange, and yellow and their tertiary variations are the warm colors.
In general, they are positive, passionate, happy, enthusiastic, and energizing.

• Red (Primary Color)

Positive associations: passion, strong emotions, excitement, love, confidence, comfort, warmth.

Negative associations: danger, anger, violence, fire, warfare.

Common design uses: bright red as an accent color; dark red, in combination with gray and white, for a professional, elegant look.

• Orange (Secondary)

Positive associations: excitement, energy, health and vitality, friendly, enthusiasm, beauty, earthiness, seasonal change, affordability, and warmth.

Negative associations: none.

Common design uses: Food and drink websites often use orange as it stimulates appetite.

• Yellow (Primary)

Positive associations: warm, cheerful, attention-grabbing, happiness, hope.

Negative associations: anger, frustration, caution/danger, cowardice, deceit.

Common design uses: Soft yellows for products and services involving children; golds and darker yellows for an antique look and a feeling of long-lasting appeal or permanence.

#What is Cool Color

Green, blue, and purple and their tertiary variations are the cool colors.
In general, they are more reserved, relaxed, professional, and calming than warm colors.

• Green (Secondary)

Positive associations: nature, growth, health, new beginnings, money, renewal, calm, abundance, soothing, fertility, good luck, harmony, balance.

Negative associations: jealousy, envy, greed, lack of experience.

Common design uses: designs related to nature, renewal, stability, and wealth. Brighter greens are most common for vibrant, energizing designs, olive greens are most commonly used to signify the natural world, and darker greens best to signal affluence and stability.

• Blue (Primary)

Positive associations: authority, calming, conservative (but can also mean liberal political values), masculine, non-threatening, peaceful, refreshing, reliable, responsible, serene, stable, strength, tranquil.

Negative associations: sadness, depression, distance, vulgarity, and adult themes.

Common design uses: Baby blues for baby and young children’s products; light blues for calming and relaxing effects; bright blues for a refreshing, energizing feel; dark blues for corporate designs and other places where reliability and strength are important.

• Purple (Secondary)

Positive associations: magical, creative, mysterious, spiritual, imaginative, luxurious, royalty, romance, wealth, and military honor.

Negative associations: none.

Common design uses: light purples for pampering, beauty, and romance; dark purples for luxury and wealth.


Neutral colors are critical to graphic design because they’re so often functioning as the backdrop and expected to produce the right effects in concert with brighter accent colors. However, neutrals can also speak volumes on their own and carry their own sophisticated meanings and messages.

• White

Positive associations: cleanliness, bridal, innocence, virginity, healthcare, purity, goodness, and peace.

Negative associations: cold, dull, bland, impersonal, uninspiring, and sterile.

Common design uses: As a backdrop white lets other colors shine; white can be used to create minimalist designs as well; white can also convey summer and winter.

• Black

Positive associations: magic, Halloween, power, fashion, elegance, mystery, wealth, and formality.

Negative associations: death, evil, intimidation, mourning, control, bad luck, and the occult.

Common design uses: used to convey an edgy, mysterious, or elegant feel. Black is also the default color of typography.

• Gray

Positive associations: professional, formal, sophisticated.

Negative associations: depressing, dull, moody.

Common design uses: corporate designs, backgrounds, and typography.

• Brown and Beige

Positive associations: earthy, down-to-earth, warm, family, dependability, steadfastness, comfortable, and reliability.

Negative associations: dull, dirty.

Common design uses: backgrounds, especially for natural-looking wood and stone looks, and as a substitute for black typography or backgrounds.

#The psychology of color in web design

It’s no accident that so many popular social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr) and tech brands (Dell, IBM, HP, and Intel) have blue logos.

But that doesn’t mean that blue is right for your website. And even if blue IS perfect for your site, don’t forget to think about other colors you should use with it (and where).

Let’s take a look at some color basics:


#The Psychology of Red

The color red can actually increase a person’s heart rate and cause them to breathe faster.

  • When to Use Red
    Use red as an accent color to draw attention to something, or to create excitement.
    Red can be good for food, fashion, entertainment, sports, marketing, advertising, emergency services, and health care.

  • When to Avoid Red
    Don’t overuse it! Too much excitement can be a bad thing. Red is generally not suitable for luxury goods, nature-related content, or professional websites/services.


#The Psychology of Yellow

Yellow is the brightest color. It is associated with competence, happiness, cheer, optimism, and youth.

  • When to use yellow
    Use bright yellow (sparingly) to energize people or to create a sense of happiness.
    Use soft, light yellows for a calmer happy feeling. Yellow can be great for drawing attention to call to action text and buttons.

  • When to avoid yellow
    Yellow can quickly become overpowering. It can strain the eyes. Again, use it sparingly. Too much yellow or the wrong hue can feel cheap or spammy.


#The psychology of orange

Orange is an energetic and vibrant color often associated with fun, happiness, energy, warmth, ambition, excitement, and enthusiasm.

  • When to use orange
    Draw attention to your call to action (subscribe, buy, sign up), clearance, sales, or other content you want to make sure people notice.
    It’s good for eCommerce, automotive, technology, entertainment, food, and childcare.

  • When to avoid orange
    Although orange is a bit less intense than red, it can still quickly become overpowering. Don’t overdo it!


#The psychology of green

Green has a harmonizing, balancing effect. Personally, I love the color Green most!

  • When to Use Green
    Green is the easiest color for the eye to process. Use it to create a relaxing, calming effect or to represent new beginnings, nature, or wealth.
    It’s great for science, tourism, medicine, human resources, environment, and sustainability.

  • When to Avoid Green
    It’s less appropriate for luxury goods, tech, or content geared toward adolescent girls.


#The psychology of blue

Blue is most suitable as the color of the interior life.

  • **When to use blue
    Blue is often used by large corporations and banks because it’s non-invasive and associated with dependability.
    It’s good for health care, dental, high-tech, medical, science, government, legal, and utilities.

  • **When to avoid blue
    Using certain shades of blues (on the darker end of the spectrum), or using too much blue can make your website feel uncaring and cold.
    Blue may also curb appetite, so be careful using it with food-related content.


#The Psychology of Purple

Purple is associated with royalty.

  • When to Use Purple
    Use dark purples to create a sense of luxury and wealth, and use light purples for spring and romance. Purple can also be great for beauty products (specifically anti-aging), astrology, massage, yoga, healing, spirituality, and content related to adolescent girls and feminine brands.

  • When to Avoid Purple
    Purple can be soothing and calming which generally makes it a poor choice for grabbing people’s attention. The use of darker, deeper purples can make your site feel aloof or distant.


#The psychology of brown

Brown is a warm, natural color associated with earth, ruggedness, reliability, stability, friendship, and nature.

  • When to Use Brown
    Brown can be used to stimulate appetite (think of commercials for coffee and chocolate), making it suitable for food-related content.
    It can also be a good fit for real estate, animals, veterinary, and finance. Brown is also typically better for backgrounds.

  • When to Avoid Brown
    Brown can be a bit boring or overly conservative. It’s generally not suitable for grabbing people’s attention and should not be used for "Call to Action" items.


#The Psychology of Black

Black is a strong color often associated with sophistication, elegance, authority, power.

  • When to Use Black
    Depending on the colors used with it, black can be elegant and traditional, or modern and edgy.
    Black can be great for luxury goods, fashion, marketing, and cosmetics.

  • When to Avoid Black
    Too much black can quickly become overwhelming. Black can also feel menacing or evil, making people feel uncomfortable or even afraid.


#The Psychology of White

White is associated with purity, cleanliness, virtue, happiness, sincerity, and safety.

  • When to Use White
    White is associated with doctors, nurses, and dentists which makes it great for websites related to the health care industry.
    It can also work for high-tech and science sites. When paired with black, gold, silver, or grey, white can also be great for luxury goods.

  • When to Avoid White
    Since the effects of white depend almost entirely upon the other colors in the design, it can theoretically be used for any type of website.


#The Psychology of Grey

Grey is associated with formality, professionalism, sophistication, practicality, timelessness, and strong character.

  • When to Use Grey
    It’s great for professional websites, luxury goods, or to create a balancing, calming effect.

  • **When to Avoid Grey
    Certain shades of grey may feel dull and detached, or even cold. Grey is not ideal for grabbing people’s attention.


#The Psychology of Pink

Although pink is a tint of red, it has some very specific associations beyond those of red.

  • When to Use Pink
    Pink is great for feminine products or sites with content specifically geared towards women and young girls.

  • When to Avoid Pink
    Bright pinks can be gaudy and light pinks can feel too sentimental or sweet for some sites.


Colors have power. If we use our knowledge of color psychology well, we can enjoy massive success in our business, career, and personal life.

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Written with ❤ by Al Nahian

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