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Color Theory
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Understanding Color Emotion Triggers, Part 1A

This is Part 1A of a series of "Psychology of Color in Web Design" articles we will be publishing. Part 1A briefly covers the colors: Red, Yellow, Blue, Green and Orange. Part 1B will briefly cover Violet, Indigo, Magenta, Brown, Black, White and Neutral Colors.

In Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, etc. we will analyze one color at a time and in greater depth. We will tell you which types of web sites and what targeted market each color is best suited for and why. We will also advise you as to the best choice for color combinations and what emotions those combinations trigger. Subscribing members will soon have access to color swatches that they can utilize within their BasicTemplates' cascading style sheets and membership web templates. Not a member yet? Now is a good time to join! Our final part in this series will be a color analysis of our own site. It will be published within our members area only, and we will share with our members the psychology behind the colors we chose for our site, and why we chose them. Ready to begin?

Color is a critical element in your web site. Have you ever been to a web site that had six or more different colors? How long did you stay there? Did it literally send shivers down your spine, and the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Did your eyes simply go ballistic? My guess is that everyone has seen a site such as this and you left that site quickly.

When color is used correctly, it can add a tremendous impact to your web site's objective. When used incorrectly, you can lose your visitors faster than they arrived. Regardless of what your left brain may tell you, color symbolizes and triggers emotions, memories and ideas or thoughts without you even realizing it. This is especially critical on the web, simply because the next website is only one mouse-click away.

The emotion triggered by a color depends on nationality, past experiences, and sometimes personal preference. However, studies have shown that specific colors and combinations can psychologically effect the majority of people regardless of their culture or past. Below you will learn which colors trigger which emotions. Determining which colors you should use in your web site depends on your web site's objective and targeted market. Using a color simply because you like it (for instance "black") is not always the best choice when you have a specific goal or targeted audience in mind. An extreme example of this would be to use a black background on a site that sold baby products. Got the idea of where we are going? When using combinations of colors (no more than two primary with two accent colors), choose colors on opposite sides of the color wheel from each other.

Ready for your first lesson in color psychology? I'll bet you will learn a lot of things you didn't know and you will come away from this lesson feeling refreshed and bouncing with new ideas for your web site!

Red is the first primary color of the spectrum. It emotionally triggers the sense of power, impulsively, sexuality and increases one's appetite. Be careful how you use red. It can also shout anger, forcefulness, impatience, intimidation, conquest, violence and revenge toward your site visitors.

Yellow is one of the three primary colors. Visually it is the most difficult for your eyes to focus on. It is actually brighter than white and stronger in its emotional impact. It also has a stimulating impact on your memory. (Remember the popularity of the yellow notepads and pale yellow Post-It Notes?) It triggers the following emotions: intelligence, joy, and organization. Its opposite effects when used in the wrong manner or with the wrong combination of other colors can create feelings of criticism, laziness, or cynicism. Splashes of pale yellow is the best choice since many tones/shades of yellow are difficult for the human eye to focus on for very long. However, if used with short burst of text as a background, it grabs your attention and helps hold what you read in your memory banks. :)

Blue is a primary color. It is the easiest color for the eyes to focus. It generates feelings of tranquility, love, acceptance, patience, understanding and cooperation. Its negative qualities if used inappropriately are fear, coldness, passivity and depression. Blue is a favorite color choice among all age groups.

Orange is a secondary color comprised of the primary colors, yellow and red. It emotionally triggers steadfastness, courage, confidence, friendliness, and cheerfulness. Its opposite effects are ignorance, inferiority, sluggishness and superiority. Orange is generally considered a social color but used in the wrong manner and with the wrong color combinations could create the opposite effects listed.

Green is the combination of two primary colors, yellow and blue. It includes all the qualities of yellow and blue and the emotions it triggers depends on which of the two primary colors is dominate. Green triggers the following positive emotions: hope, growth, good health, freshness, soothing, sharing, and responsiveness. Its negative attributes are envy, greed, constriction, guilt, jealousy and disorder.

In our next publication, we will briefly analyze Violet, Indigo, Magenta, Brown, Black, White and Neutral Colors.

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