The Psychology of Color in Website Design

Colors can strengthen your brand, encourage sales, and even guide visitors toward specific pages or actions on your website

By Andrea Borja-Hoffmann

Color is a crucial element in website design. It has the power to shape the meaning of text, guide user navigation, and evoke specific emotions.

The link between color and brand identity is strong. Certain industries frequently use particular colors. For instance, blue is used in over 75% of credit card brand logos, and 20% of fast food brand logos. Red, meanwhile, is found in 0% of apparel logos, but over 60% of retail brands.

For consumers confronted with advertising thousands of times a day, these visual cues can be an unconscious message about what they’re being sold, and by whom.


The color red can actually increase a person’s heart rate and cause them to breathe faster. Red is associated with lust, excitement, love, energy, and movement. It also has some potentially negative associations including war, violence, fire, anger, and danger.

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: Red is generally not suitable for luxury goods, nature-related content, or professional websites/services.

Coca-Cola uses red in its branding to create a strong and stimulating impact. The choice of red aligns with their goal to evoke excitement and capture attention, reflecting their energetic and bold brand image.


Orange is an energetic and vibrant color often associated with fun, happiness, energy, warmth, ambition, excitement, and enthusiasm. It can also be used to communicate caution. 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.

Nickelodeon, a children’s entertainment brand, utilizes orange in its logo and branding. The color choice reflects their playful and fun nature, aiming to evoke feelings of happiness and excitement among their young audience.


Yellow is the brightest color. It is associated with competence, happiness, cheer, optimism, and youth. Yellow also has some negative associations such as cowardice, deceit, and cheapness.

Use bright yellow 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. Use it sparingly. Too much yellow or the wrong hue can feel cheap or spammy.

Best Buy, a leading electronics retailer, incorporates yellow in its branding. The color choice reflects a sense of optimism and intelligence, creating a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere in their stores and advertisements.


Associated with growth and ambition

Green has a harmonizing, balancing effect. It is associated with growth, health, nature, wealth, money, calmness, masculinity, generosity, fertility, envy, good luck, peace, harmony, support, and energy.

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.


Blue is associated with masculinity, competence, quality, calmness, dependability, steadfastness, wisdom, loyalty, strength, productivity, trust, and security. Bright blues can also be refreshing and energizing.

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.

Blue may also curb appetite, so be careful using it with food-related content.

Facebook utilizes blue as its dominant color, representing trust, reliability, and a sense of calmness. The choice reflects the platform’s aim to create a safe and secure environment for social connections.


Purple is associated with royalty. It can be used to communicate creativity, imagination, authority, sophistication, power, wealth, prosperity, mystery, wisdom, and respect.

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.

Cadbury, a renowned chocolate brand, incorporates purple in its branding. The color choice conveys a sense of elegance and indulgence, appealing to the idea of luxury and high-quality confectionery.


Black is a strong color often associated with sophistication, elegance, authority, power, sleekness, stability, strength, formality, and intelligence. It can also symbolize death, mystery, evil, and rebellion.

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.

Nike utilizes black in its logo and advertising. The color choice reflects their brand’s association with athleticism, strength, and a touch of mystery, creating a sense of empowerment and style.


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


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

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.


Although pink is a tint of red, it has some very specific associations beyond those of red. Pink represents sophistication, sincerity, romance, and love. It does not have the violent, angry connotations of red, and it can be quite soothing and gentle. 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.


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

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.

Apple embraces white in its minimalist design approach. The choice of white reflects simplicity, sophistication, and a focus on user-friendly experiences, aligning with their commitment to innovative and user-centric products.

Pro tip: Search Pinterest for themed palettes

Pinterest holds an impressive amount of color palettes curated by creatives all around the world. For instance, if your website is about scuba diving, you can do a simple search under “ocean color palettes” and find one you like.

Ready to create your own palette? Start here.

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