Have you ever been surfing the Internet only to come across a super bright blazing page (maybe in yellow?) surrounded with blinking red letters and wished you had your sunglasses handy? How about a page where colors seem to fade into each other making text impossible to read? If you have answered ?yes? to either of these questions then you should fall right into the category where probably 100% of the people reading this article are going to join you. I can?t count the number of times that I have been blissfully surfing the Internet only to visit a page and think, ?ugh, why on earth did they do that?? Your Web site is your presence to the world, and an esthetically pleasing sight will almost certainly guarantee a better visitor response. Essentially, color use can dramatically alter the overall feeling and emotion of any Web site. If you remember that one click is all it takes to vanish into cyberspace, you?ll have a hard time arguing that you can explain to your visitors why you chose a certain color. The old adage ?You never get a second chance to make a first impression? is unerringly accurate in cyberspace, and, increasingly, judicious use of correct colors is an important aspect of your design. 

So what exactly is color? Color is defined by the Webster?s Dictionary as a ?sensation experienced usually as a result of light of varying wavelengths reaching the eye.? In fact, many species including humans, primates, and birds have developed this special kind of vision to help make objects stand out vividly from their backgrounds. Ok, here?s an example. Take a look at the text listed below and tell me where your eye travels first. 

COLOR TEST or COLOR TEST 

Notice that your eye is automatically attracted to the ?Color Test? on the right? It?s an interesting point that color automatically attracts the eye. You can also draw similar conclusions between light and dark colors. Certain shapes will even attract your attention. 

However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of certain colors (and their intensity) is the emotion that you feel when you are presented with them. Certain colors create ?moods? and, amiable or not, pick the wrong one and visitors to your site aren?t likely to return. Remember, it only takes one click to vanish into cyberspace. Which brings us to the interesting part of this article, which colors create which moods or feelings, and how can you use them to your advantage? 

Creating a ?mood? or atmosphere isn?t as difficult as you might think. In fact, you probably already know some of the feelings certain colors are associated with. If you are familiar with, ?I was so angry I saw red!? then you?re ahead of the game. What makes things complex are the uses for each color. Using the above example, even though red is associated with anger and heated emotion, its brightness and intensity also lend it a strong attention getting aspect (police car lights are a great example). 

So how do you determine which colors are best for your site? The first step is to think about the image that you want to portray on the Internet. Is your site involved in services that are innovative, fresh, and energetic? Are you a reliable trustworthy institution that has benefited customers for years? Your image will dictate the best primary color choices for your site, and your subsequent modifications to text and images will help to ?tweak? the best possible mood. Colors are also associated with a state of being ?cool? or ?warm.? Let?s look at some of the traditional views of certain colors: 
Red: anger, love, passion ­ hot
Green: envy, growth, nature ­ cool 
Blue: cooling, calming, reassuring ­ cool to cold, depending on depth and intensity
Yellow: happiness, brightness ­ warm
Black: fear ­ cold
White: purity and innocence ­ cool


Generally, most colors can be placed into three distinct types according to the type of image and mood that you want to create. Colors and textures that inspire trust include metals, stones, and rich colors (such as deep purple); excitement colors include red, pinks, oranges, fluorescents, and yellows; and, finally, comforting colors include most pastels and neutrals (taupes and earth colors). For a quick and easy exercise on emotional associations with colors, just visit the two sites I?ve listed below and ask yourself how you feel when viewing them. Are you excited? Happy? Soothed? 
http://www.thatsracin.com/00/0506/
http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/


Once you have this information, using color to your advantage is simple! Have a new product that you want users to get excited about and click for a preview? Try red! Need to reassure your customers that your company is solidly founded and completely trustworthy? Try a deep blue accented by marbling effects. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity! 

To get started with a great resource on picking colors for your Web site, visit here: http://users.rcn.com/giant.interport/COLOR/1ColorSpecifier.html. Or, for more resources than you could possibly ever use on choosing colors, visit this site that features an extensive collection of shareware and tools: http://www.davecentral.com/htmlcolor.html 

 

Copyright© 1999-2003. All rights reserved.