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Did you know that colors communicate? The use of color in your blog design can be an essential part of how your personal brand is perceived. Color usage can either make or break your blog design, and I will show you how to choose your colors wisely by understanding what they communicate.

When new visitors land on your blog, the first things they interpret are colors. Before they read a single character, their brain is registering colors which are subconsciously (or consciously) tied to emotions, states of mind, or [preconceived ideas]. If you do a poor job at putting together the colors in your blog design, it can be detrimental to the growth of your brand.

I’ve come up with an essential guide to what colors communicate, as well as a quick infographic to reference that is free to download!


[This is part of the Blog Design Essentials series. Check out the rest of the posts here!]

What do colors communicate?

You may not know this, but colors have a very significant effect on us both psychologically, and even physiologically! Certain colors can change our state of mind, or even affect our physical state. Is that crazy or what?

Lucky for you, I’ve gathered the research and put it all in one place for your reference. I’ve even put together an infographic at the end for you to download and share! First, let’s break these colors down one-by-one:

Red

red-communicatesThis happens to be my favorite color– as if you couldn’t tell. Red is the most eye-catching and exciting color in the entire spectrum. It’s eye-catching, exciting, and demands attention. But did you know that the color red actually increases your heart rate?

It is perfect for accent colors, calls to action, or anywhere you want to draw people’s attention. Be careful though, because overuse of this color can cause a negative emotional response.

Orange

orange-communicatesProbably my second favorite color. Orange is also an attention getter. Distinct from red, orange is a color that is mostly associated with fun, ambition, and youthfulness.

It is also a great color to use for accents and calls to action. Unlike red, it is not as easily overused.

Yellow

yellow-communicatesThis is the official color of optimism and happiness. Maybe that’s why smiley faces are always this color. Studies have shown that the color yellow actually causes the release of serotonin in the brain, which is a chemical that positively stimulates your brain. Basically, it produces “happy” chemicals!

This color is also best used in small amounts. Too much yellow can be overpowering and shouldn’t be used as a dominant color in a scheme.

Green

green-communicatesThis is the easiest color for the human eye to process. It’s easy to look at and is associated with growth, nature, and money. It can also be a very relaxing color for some, which is why you’ll see it used in a lot of leisure and “zen-like” design.

If your goal is to communicate growth this is the color you want to use.

Blue

blue-communicatesThe color of trust and loyalty. Blue is associated with calmness and security. Most people would say that blue is their favorite color. It has been documented to lower heart-rate, foster relaxation, and increase productivity. Maybe this has something to do with why a billion people trust Facebook with all their most valuable information? Just a thought. ;)

This is a very safe color to incorporate into your design. Since it’s most people’s favorite color, you’ll immediately appeal to a wider audience.

Violet

violet-communicatesA color that has traditionally been associated with royalty and prosperity. Studies have shown that the color purple actually stimulates problem solving in the human brain. That’s interesting.

Caution though, studies have also shown that overuse of this color can give people the impression of falsehood, or being fake. Use this color as an accent, and sparingly.

Grey

grey-communicatesA solid, timeless color that communicates strength, sturdiness, and longevity. Likely because things that are grey have these same attributes: steel, concrete, stone, Apple products, etc..

You can never go wrong when incorporating this color into your design project. It can be a great alternative to white, and give things a modern, yet timeless, look.

Brown

brown-communicatesEarthy and organic is what best describes this color. Dirt, trees, potatoes– all things found in the earth. It’s also the color of my favorite beverage– coffee! When used properly, it can be a soothing element and give an organic feel to your design.

White

white-communicatesThe lightest color both visually and in psychological weight. It gives a light feel to your design, and is best used to give your design breathing room. Associated with purity, cleanliness and clarity I think white is a great color to incorporate into any design.

Black

black-communicatesThe color of elegance, power, and authority; boldly stated and seemingly unshakeable. If you’re trying to communicate strength be sure to incorporate black into your design.

I am of course talking about all these colors in their most basic form. Surely a neon-green will be more attention-getting than a dull red any day of the week. So these are merely a starting point and general guide to what colors communicate.

Quick Reference Infographic

I’ve created this simple chart for you to download and reference for your current or future projects. Please feel free to share!

visual guide to what colors communicate

[Click on image for full size.]

Unfortunately I have way to much to say about picking the right colors, so instead of making this post the size of a small novel, I decided to break it up over 2-3 different posts. In my next installment of the Blog Design Essentials I’ll address how many colors to incorporate, and helpful tools to put together the perfect color palette.

Has any of this caused you to re-think the colors you are currently using in your blog design? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this Dustin, the infographic is a really great resource. I’ve come across a few other places which have looked at this before but none have gone into the dangers of overusing a colour (or done as many colours)
    It’s interesting that most design at the moment is heavily white, grey and black influenced (though i guess they are and always will be classic colours) I’m currently using some very Team Great Britain Inspired Olympic colours of White, Navy blue and red which I really like.

      • says

        Indeed I am! The spell check (blog or browser I don’t know) picked up on it but I left it in to point out that I am! I guess they’re the same colors ;) as team USA the bold reds and blue seam to compliment each other nicely (I think.) Have you thought of doing anything about complimentary colours (see Instinctively go for the UK version) That could be useful too.
        All the best

  2. Chuck says

    Thank you. Very interesting article. Now I’m thinking about the colors I chose and what I might be saying without realizing that I was say those things. :)

  3. says

    Hey Dustin

    It’s great that you can explain colors, because I always read what colors mean and then forget after a while, I remember that silver is timeless, expensive, and purple is regal or royalty. So when I design, I troll the website for pictures and listen to how I feel, how they have an affect on me, and then I use those colors.

    It’s kind’a cheating, but I think it works.

  4. Tyler Hess says

    I go with orange, mostly because I always loved the color and they are my alma mater’s colors, but also because I have read the “energy/youthful” part before as well. part of me wants to go with blue because of the whole everybody likes blue thing, i mean it works for twitter, fb and itunes, i’m more afraid that it is overused than anything else

  5. kelly hansen says

    Dustin, is it me or is one of your lens missing in your profile pic? ;)
    I just came across your creative brilliance today and will be following you going forward.
    Thanks for the color reference chart. Very intuitive.
    ~kelly

  6. Lucille Williams says

    Dustin…what a great post and so informative! My dad always told me what you stated about the color blue. I guess dad was right. I am going to clink over to my blog and pay attention to the colors. Thanks, love this post!

  7. says

    I run an environmental education organization, the Burns Bog Conservation Society. This information is just what I need. everyone thinks because we are an environmental organization that we need to overdo the “green” when it is actually another message that I want to get across. e.g. blue, touches of red and even grey. I like what you say about brown. There was a Canadian organization that used brown a lot and I liked it. Now they have completely changed their emails and I miss the way they used brown to separate news articles into white boxes with the brown background.

  8. Malinda says

    One of my coworkers directed me to your site. I teach a Design class at the high school level, and have a lesson on the use of color and the meanings behind them. I love your reference infographic and would love to have it in poster form for my classroom for my students to use. Any chance of that? I know I’m not the only teacher out there thinking this! Thanks for the great info!

  9. says

    Hello Dustin. Thanks for the resource. I am wondering how you arrived at these results. I know you mention, “studies show . . . ” on some of the colors and not on others, but I am curious about this underlying research. Do you have some resources that back up the claims here? Thanks bunches.

  10. Gio Lester says

    Dustin, do you know where we could find some material touching on the cultural perception of colors? For example, red in some Asian cultures is prosperity and white is for death. I have been looking without much luck.

    And thank you for the quick reference.

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