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Color Me Bad? or ‘How Not to Waste Your Time’

Posted By Bryan Eisenberg On February 27, 2007 @ 10:29 am In Improving Conversion,Persuasive Design,Usability | 3 Comments

Over at MarketingSherpa [1], my good friend Anne Holland expresses the challenges she’s facing choosing colors for her redesign. I can empathize for sure. It’s one of the reasons I suggest to first design and show design in gray scale; color is an emotionally laden language most of us don’t speak well, yet we understand it at gut level. Anne says:

If you’ve ever had to choose site colors, you’ll understand completely. The three biggest problems:

(1) Everything’s really subjective. What a color “means” can be personal or cultural, but it’s not the same for everyone…

(2) Everything looks slightly different on differing computers. Non-dithering hues notwithstanding, most people’s screens look a little different…

(3) There’s virtually no data on marketing and color.

I know because I checked our site’s new Research Database, which has more than 1,800 records, for stats on color. Very little came up.

Turns out, you can find loads of articles on the Web about color choices. However, most are based on hearsay instead of lab tests, cultural associations and/or broad generalizations that don’t help much when you’ve got a palate of hundreds of hues to choose from.

My next step was to check out our Case Study Library with nearly 750 Case Studies. Did anyone test color choices?

Well, yes, they did. However, results were disheartening to a marketer stuck in a design meeting. Aside from the twin factors of legibility and good taste (based on target demographic), color tests were *never* a big factor in improving conversion rates.

What does matter in a website designed to sell? Here are some of the basics we’ve discovered throughout our research and conversion optimization tests:

  • Professional appearance that takes the best principles for design and adapts them to the online environment
  • Relatively uncluttered, streamlined design
  • They load pretty fast
  • Color blocks rather than patterns
  • Good use of white space
  • More text than graphic images (for the most part)
  • Visual groupings of similar information
  • Scannable and skimmable presentation of information
  • Functions and elements located where visitors generally expect to find them (or made otherwise prominent)
  • Qualification schemes that quickly help the visitor identify what she’s looking for supported with links that take her directly there

Websites designed to sell are conversion-oriented and task or process-conscious and don’t hide behind unnecessary visual drama. Sure, deeper in the process, some sites throw in a glitzy feature (like a rotating view of a product), but you shouldn’t rely on glitz to reach the goal. Color still matters. Color is an emotional tie to your branding and, of course, you want to avoid colors that have no contrast and be careful how you use red/green buttons because of color blindness issues.Oh, and you should consider changing your colors if your site looks like this [2].

Article printed from Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow: http://www.grokdotcom.com

URL to article: http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/02/27/color-me-bad-or-how-not-to-waste-your-time/

URLs in this post:

[1] MarketingSherpa: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.html?ident=29879

[2] site looks like this: http://www.dvorak.org/blog/?p=9891

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