Color is an important element of visual language in most user interface designs. People process color before they are consciously aware of it., so the colors you choose to use can be the difference between a user-friendly design and a confusing, unusable design. Careful planning and implementation of color will create not only an aesthetically pleasing website, but a functional one as well. Below are ten color –related benefits you may want to consider when creating your next design.
1. Speed visual search. Color-coding will help the user stay focused on a certain area of information. This comes in handy when multiple areas of information are being displayed. Color-coding helps keep the eye focused and the information organized.
2. Improve object recognition. Colors should reflect the physical world. Seeing objects that are colored different than real world expectations causes cognitive confusion. For speedy recognition, use colors that are normally associated with objects, e.g., bananas are yellow.
3. Enhance meaning. Colors can be used for emphasis, to display a most important element or message. The example below shows an emphasis on red that gets our attention and clues us to what the site is all about.
4. Convey structure. In addition to speeding visual search, color can structure a page or presentation. It offers yet another form of organization, allowing the user to quickly identify and recognize information.
5. Establish identity. In today’s world, brand identity is the greatest visual recognition element of any business or organization. Color is ubiquitous and is a source of information; incorporating and utilizing the appropriate color palette in your visual design will reinforce the client’s brand throughout the user experience.
6. Symbolism. Color can also be used to represent cultural and psychological concepts. Color in design is very subjective. What evokes one reaction in one person may evoke a very different reaction in someone else. Sometimes this is due to personal preference, and other times due to cultural background. Context plays a large part in color symbolism. One color can have positive or negative connotations depending on the larger framework. Take a look at the “white” website image below. In western cultures, white represents color of purity and peace. In Eastern and Asian cultures, white is the color of death. Understanding the cultural context of your client’s audience can alert you to culturally based color sensitivity.
7. Improve usability. Colors impact site visitors psychologically, and can affect the user’s experience. In user interfaces, color informs visitors of the most important functions and areas of the screen. Take the user’s need and site functionality into consideration before strategizing your use of color.
8. Communicate mood. Color creates mood. Research shows that lighter colors have a more positive effect on users than darker colors. The following link provides examples of colors and the psychology it impacts. http://usabilitygeek.com/colour-user-experience-psychology/
9. Show associations. Color can be used to indicate associations to groupings or other graphical elements. For example, we recognize the U.S. political party colors to be blue for democratic and red for republican. In the same way, colors used in web design can be utilized to help a user identify certain information or functionality.
10. Express metaphors. You have heard of feeling blue or seeing red as metaphors for being sad or angry. Metaphoric inferences can be translated visually in your design. Utilizing a color like pink, for example, can translate into a young, teen girl experience for a youth clothing store.
In the end, don’t be afraid to experiment with the use of color to enhance the appearance and functionality of your design. Color has great meaning and will you create an impactful, functional and beneficial user experience.
Tell us about your color experience and design considerations. Are there specific colors you avoid in your design to improve the user experience?
“5 Quick Ways to Improve Website Usability”-usabilitygeek.com
“10 Reasons to Use Color”-understandinggraphics.com
“Color Theory for Designers” –smashingmagazine.com