The meaning of the [Web] colors

We saw in our last readings how to create colors combinations to highlight important sections of the site keeping our users´s attention and reducing eyestrain.  However, when we are designing our website and choosing our color range we have to take in consideration other facts. Users don´t see just a group of balance/unbalance colors but they also perceive meanings from them.

Historically, colors had always a meaning attached to it. These meanings came from religious practices but eventually became cultural norms and symbols that were used by artists to express different feelings in their paints. In these two paints the spectator can feel completely different emotions. Whereas Matisse´s (red one) paint shows vibrancy and energy, Van Gogh´s (blue one) paint bring a relax, lonely and sad feeling.

"The Red Room" by Matisse"Starry Night" by Van Gogh

These meanings are not universal but change from countries and cultures. For example in western cultures, black symbolizes darkness and death whereas in India white is the color for the funerals. In western culture Red color has been associated with war and forbidden passions. However, in China red is the color of joy and good luck.

How colors affect to Web design? These meanings are very deeply internalized in our culture. Choosing the wrong colors for your main target could make your website fails.

  • Think about your target: Think about who is going to see your site. Are you designing a website for American-Japanese users? For a Latino target maybe? You should be aware of the potential meanings of the color range that you will use. Your target could feel more connected to your site using the right colors.
  • Think about the topic of your site: A lot of our common everyday activities are attach with meanings. What color you see attach to the word Taxi or police? and to the word wedding? What is the color of a Barbie? Users can make those connections online as well. Identifying what your target thinks and feels and trying to match those emotions with the colors of your site can engage more your customers.









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  1. Session 5 : Personas and Audience Analysis « COM585 - 9 November 2011

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