How To Choose Colors That Will Maximize Conversions?
Color is all around us. We often take them for granted, but colors affect us in a variety of ways every day. Just think about the difference in your mood between a grey cloudy day and a sunny one with blue skies. Color has a huge impact on our moods, thoughts and ideas, and this is no less true about the colors one encounters while surfing the web, leading to widespread debates about which colors convert best. Conversion is the name of the game when it comes to web traffic. Sure, you’ve gotten a user onto your page, but that’s only step one – now that they have arrived, you want to get them to “convert” – DO something. On a retail site, this would obviously be buying a product, but it could be any number of other things – signing up for a newsletter, clicking a link to another page, giving contact information, etc. The importance of color in conversion, specifically in choosing colors for buttons, is not to be overlooked, as maximizing conversion rates can boost a site’s sales or membership dramatically. Here are some points to keep in mind when choosing colors for maximum conversion.
The unconscious influences behind color reception.
We all know that color can affect our mood, but we rarely stop to think about the deeper psychological influences behind patterns of color, and how much these vary across cultures.
For example, white in China is the color associated with mourning. Because of this, their market has very little demand for white cars. In contrast, white is the most popular car color in the U.S., where the color represents peace (white doves) and purity. The color red, which we will come back to later, is symbolic of excitement, danger, and passion in the west, while in the east it represents prosperity and good fortune. Yellow is associated with happiness and hope in western cultures, while in eastern ones it is a sacred color often representing Buddhism. In Egypt it is the color of mourning. Tropical peoples generally prefer warmer colors, while those in colder climates gravitate towards – you guessed it – cooler colors.
Beyond deep cultural ties to particular colors, psychological studies have found that colors can also have subtle effects on things like appetite and mood. Pink is shown to relax muscles and suppress appetite, while orange energizes the body and stimulates the appetite. Obviously, the influence of color is not something to overlook when designing a website. But which colors are optimal?
Green, red, and orange: the three most optimal color choices in U.S.-based websites.
Studies have found green, red, and orange to be the three most powerful color choices for websites based out of the U.S. However, each of the three colors has its own unique associations and reasons for popularity. Red is a clear choice for any design, first and foremost because of its great ability to draw attention. Red carries associations of energy, passion, and danger, which make it a very powerful option for getting a strong message across. It is associated with dominance, but also has the negative connotation of error – remember the horror of getting a test back in school and seeing red ink filling up the page? Red can be put to great use in many contexts, but there will be others where it is not ideal (say, a test prep company.) This is an important point to keep in mind – context is more important in color choice than the individual color itself. Coca-Cola is the brand probably most associated with this color, and they have one of the strongest brand images in the world. Another is Target. One interesting point to note is that both of these companies use white to balance the red in their logos, which is common, as red by itself can be overpowering and distracting. Green has strong associations with rejuvenation, new beginnings and nature, which is why it is often chosen for natural food companies, spas, and other businesses in the same vein. Starbucks and Whole Foods are two well-known examples. Something else to keep in mind is that green is the “go” color on the stoplight, an association few people will miss. Orange, as we noted earlier, is known to increase appetite, and has been shown in studies to appeal to the taste buds, leading to its widespread use in food-based businesses. There are many examples of its use in other areas as well, with Home Depot and the children’s network Nickelodeon being two strong examples. All three colors are strong choices because of the various positive attributes that are associated with them, and for their abilities to stand out on a page.
The red vs. green debate.
Much time and energy has been spent recently debating the merits of green vs. red buttons in terms of conversion. There are numerous examples and studies that proclaim each color the champion through tests, but they are usually flawed, failing to take into account the most important point in color choice: context. In many of the studies that “show” one color to have a higher conversion rate than the other, the supposed advantage can really be accounted to either red or green fitting better into the color context of the page, and standing out more in contrast to the colors around it. There is no “best” color for conversion, but taking the rest of the page’s colors into account will help you to choose a button color that converts well. Choose a color that fits the overall color layout of the page well, and that contrasts with the colors around it in order to stand out.
Neon or “radioactive” buttons. One new trend quickly gaining popularity is the use of neon or “radioactive” buttons. Using simple CSS animations, designers can make buttons appear to glow or flash colors, drawing a huge amount of user attention to them. Since creating these buttons can be done in CSS very simply, they are a new viable option for increasing your site’s conversion rates. One point to note, though – so far, the CSS styling for these buttons only works in Safari and Chrome. By now it should be clear how color choice can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. A myriad of cultural and psychological factors are at play behind each color, and understanding their impact on users can help you choose the best colors for a particular page. Being savvy to the power behind different colors can go a long way towards helping you maximize your site’s conversion rates.