Choosing Colors That SELL

6 replies
  • WEB DESIGN
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One of the things I do is find photos for peoples' websites & marketing campaigns. That means I get to see a lot of different pictures, and I've started to notice some trends in how they affect the people that look at them.

And I've come to realize the biggest thing that NOBODY understands is color.

Okay, sure, just about everyone knows not to go for that black and red theme for a health blog. But short of hiring a web designer for $$$$ per hour, how do you pick colors for that squeeze page?

After all, when you're trying to get EVERY POSSIBLE SALE, every little thing matters... and there's a lot of colors out there to split-test.

The trick is that your mind is already telling you. You just haven't learned how to listen to it!

Think back to the last couple of movies you saw.

There was probably at least one scene in a blueish white space... maybe you couldn't even see the background at the beginning, but I'll bet you knew right off the bat that it was either outdoors in the snow or inside, in something like a lab or an institution.

At that moment, some part of you remembered every other time you'd been in that setting... if it was an outdoor movie, maybe you even started thinking about the jacket slung over the back of your seat.

I'll bet, too, that you can also remember a film with some people talking in a dark room, where the lighting was really yellow-red.

Doesn't even matter what else was going on. You knew IMMEDIATELY it was indoors at night, or maybe around a camp fire. Maybe you even started feeling a little warmer, kind of like the last time you had some hot cocoa.

Now let's apply that to something more practical.

Patrick Bateman: Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!
What kind of person picks an off-white business card?

Someone who wants people think to of them as established and respectable. The kind of person who would print it on parchment, if they could... but also the sort of person who'd feel just as at home in a wood-paneled club drinking single-malt. (or so they'd have you believe)

Warm colors, after all, are another way to convey "warm," "traditional," and "comfortable."

The reverse is just as true. Bright, bleached white cards are the canvas of choice for the designers that go for blocky modern colors.

In other words, the people who want you to see that they're cutting edge and modern.

Okay cool. We've got a nice rule of thumb going here.
"Add more red" == warm, homey, comfortable, traditional.
"Add more blue" == cool, technical, efficient, new, futuristic

Except... wait a minute.

What's up with "blue bloods" and "blue states" being the vanguards of wealth and tradition, while "red states" and "red hearts" are all about trying something new and showing your passion?

When you go a little too far on the color scale, things turn right around.

Red is blood! Our brains are biologically hard-wired to shift a little more into action-mode the instant they see red. That's because for the last 100,000 years, red meant someone's blood was spilled, which meant there might be a predator -- or enemy -- hiding nearby.

Add a little yellow, and you get FIRE! Bright orange was as good a signal as any to our great-ancestors to look alert and be extra-careful... brush fires would kill them just as easily as lions did. That's one reason traffic cones and construction workers love the way bright orange gets dumb drivers to pay attention.

Blue, on the other hand, is calm ocean, winding rivers, and all the opportunities for trade those brought. It was also one color of royalty, because blue dyes were really hard to find and therefore expensive.

Now, before you go applying these ideas to your squeeze page... don't pick your colors blindly.

Just like the way adding a little bit of red means warmth while a lot might mean revolution, there are other traps too. The only way to really tell is to take a step back and forget the stuff floating around in your head about "this means that." Look at it and ask yourself, does this feel right?

Now split test the heck out of it.

(And drop me a line when you need the right photo.)
#choosing #colors #sell
  • Profile picture of the author Maxwell Stinson
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    • Profile picture of the author sketchh
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      • Profile picture of the author MaxTheMarketer
        Since I am huge psychology-nerd I wanted to give my input here regarding colours.

        First off, the most "eye-catching" colours are and will alsways be due to the biology of the eye: red, orange and yellow (this is also why, not surprisingly, you see these colours mostly everywhere, particularly on very successful websites).

        The reason these colours grab our attention so easily is because our receptors in the eyes are, in all their simplicity, based on red-receptors, green-receptors, and blue-receptors.

        When counting these receptors, it is found to be about 60%+ receptors of red (who picks up the colour red and nearby colours such as orange and yellow) and this can partially explain why these colours are and will always be eye-catching one, NEVER stop use what works! ;-)

        Furthermore, we can also learn from an old, yet applicable, article from the New York Magazine April 3 in as long as back in 1989 on pages 22-23, regarding colours and their application for Internet Marketing:

        * Blue - Commands respect and authority. Blue is America's favourite color. Men tend to see products packaged in blue.

        * Yellow - Caution, novelty, temporary, warmth, friendliness. Eye registers this colour the fastest.

        * Green - Secure, natural, relaxed or easygoing, living things. This is associated with nature things such as vegetables and vegetation. Using green colours (or nature pictures with green colours) improve your working productivity (I use a picture of a beautiful waterfall with nice flowers and vegetation around it).

        * Red - Human, exciting, hot, passionate, strong, intense, dangerous. This colour has its power based on the fact that blood, a sign of danger or death, has this colour. We are hardwired to understand this regarding this colour. Anything with red colours makes it look exciting most of the times.

        * Orange - Powerful, affordable, informal. This catches attention easily and that is why it is used mostly on "buy now"-buttons (think PayPal, Amazon and eBay).

        * Brown - Informal and relaxed, masculine, nature. Men tend to like products packaged in brown.

        * White - Goodness, purity, chastity, cleanliness, delicacy, refinement, formality. Can be preceived as clean, scientific (think stereotypical scientist in their white rocks) and authoritative (think doctors in white rocks).

        * Black - Sophistication, power, authority, mystery. High-tech electronics use this to appear more interesting and black is common clothing so the person wearing it looks more powerful and authoritative.

        * Pink - Feminine, childish, playful, cute, sexual. This colour is mostly culturally-based and due to socialization defining this colour for women, it is perceived as such. This colour is used heavily, and succesfully so, on female products and services.

        * Purple - Magical, mystical, spiritual. This colour gets its perceptions from culture where you see most magic effects in purple (think of old Disney-movies where witches use their wands) and since spirituality is beyond the natural world that too has an association to the purple colour.

        * Silver, Gold, Platinum - Regal, wealthy, stately. Suggests premium price and luxury.

        * Grey - Neutral, boring, death. This colour by itself can look very boring or dull, but combining it with others or using it as background can give a nice soft touch to the page instead of a typical contrasting white colour that usually "yells" more than it soothes the user seeing it.

        Reference: New York Magazine - Google Böcker

        Another important point when dealing with colours:

        Make sure you do NOT use too much brightness on your colours. Make sure you make them slightly darker so they do not create fatigue in the user.

        Third point; when choosing what colours to work with, make sure you do NOT use too many different colours as this can be annoying too.

        If you look at WarriorForum's colours; they use mainly red, black and different shades of grey (NO, this is NOT the right time to think of that book, haha).

        Most colours match well with black, grey and white such as red, orange, green etc., You can go to Color Scheme Designer 3 to create nice colour schemes where you can find nice matching colours.

        And here to make your colours most consistent and powerful, make sure you only work with a few colours and make sure they are equally bright or dark to keep them consistent (don't mix these two).

        I hope this have added some value to the discussion regarding "colors that SELL".

        If we look at the most succesful companies we will see that most powerful colours are: red, yellow, orange, blue and green. This depends also on what kind of business you are running.

        For example, McDonalds and Coca Cola want you to be excited about their products and consume it as soon as possible and lots of it so they use strong exciting colours such as red, orange and yellow.

        At the same time you will see other companies use more softer colours such as dark blue to make you feel calm just as the blue sky calms you or the blue reflection you see on the water on a typical day.

        So, if you have an exciting business where you want people to spring into action I recommend to combine colours of red, yellow and orange (or just two of them).

        And if you have a more calmer business where you want people to take time to think and still feel comfortable in the process (such as buying a house, buying medical advice, products or services, etc.,) then I recommend a combination of blue, grey, black and/or green colours as these seem to appease most human beings.

        Take Care & Have An Awesome Day! / Max "MaxTheMarketer" K.

        P.S. andreas3 is completely right about the biology behind the colours and that is where we can understand their innate impact it has on us human beings and start to employ it more in marketing contexts.
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        • Profile picture of the author andreas3
          Max, your post is awesome, amazing, epic, and just the kind of discussion I was hoping to see. Thanks!

          One thing worth adding to:
          Originally Posted by MaxTheMarketer View Post

          When counting these receptors, it is found to be about 60%+ receptors of red (who picks up the colour red and nearby colours such as orange and yellow) and this can partially explain why these colours are and will always be eye-catching one,
          While it's true that there are more red ones among the eye's color-sensitive receptors... the eye is actually much more sensitive to green!

          If you take a green light, a red light, and a blue light and point them at the wall, the green light will be MUCH brighter (assuming they're all putting out the same amount of light).

          If you put on red-, green-, and blue-colored glasses one after the other, your vision will be a LOT sharper wearing the green ones.

          One of many reasons they're called "red light districts" is because the red lights make it harder to see skin imperfections and wrinkles!
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    • Profile picture of the author andreas3
      Originally Posted by Maxwell Stinson View Post

      I really like the idea of making your website visually appealing. If you think about it, a plain website is something a potential customer is more likely to go browsing. People nowadays tend to take how a website looks into consideration before they consider learning more about the company behind the website.
      Yeah, absolutely. Visually appealing is KEY, because it means there aren't any parts of your audience's brain going "um, can we look at something else now please?"

      Look at it this way... any top-40 songs, if you'd never heard them before, are songs you could put on at a party and just about anyone would be OK with that.

      Sure, some of them get kind of annoying after the twentieth play on the radio. But none of them involve people breaking their guitars over the microphone for artistic effect.

      Now, I'm not going to argue against the split-testers that find garish red and yellow with blinking icons get more sales...

      ...but seriously? There's a place for everything. The reason those things work is because they kind of short circuit the brain.

      Thing is, "you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

      There's always going to be people whose brains don't short circuit like you want them to. There's actually a lot of those people. Direct marketers know them pretty well, they're the clicks that got away, the 90% to the conversion rate's 10%.

      That's why Google became #1 with a website that was everything a squeeze page isn't.

      So the real question is, can you make things look good, AND get epic conversion rates?

      I don't know... I'm not a designer. But judging by some of the trends I've been seeing here, "aesthetically pleasing" does indeed trump "flashing red and blue text with yellow smiley faces." You just have to get someone on board with a decent eye for things.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sue McDonald
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  • Profile picture of the author Make Money Ninja
    None of that shit really matters that much, i mean it does... i just have action colours...

    So for example, if my site is mostly a cool blue colour scheme... i make sure i have something like bright red/orange as my call to action button colour or my email opt in button.

    Something contrasting will up conversions loads.

    Source: Lots of testing.

    Also, sorry OP. Didnt read all of your post
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  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    This is where you want to post your next article:

    Articles

    (p.s. since it has some good info for design beginners, I am not going to delete the thread, just closing it to prevent further BS... as in some posts above, the majority of which got deleted...)
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