Color plays a major role in the effectiveness of a website. The psychology of color is a field of study that analyzes the emotional and behavioral effects of colors and their combinations. Here are some standard color associations that designers need to consider in their designs, especially when designing for global sites.

  • Red: Passion, strength, energy, fire, love, sex, excitement, speed, heat, arrogance, ambition, leadership, masculinity, power, danger, gaudiness, blood, war, anger, revolution, radicalism, socialism, communism, aggression, summer, autumn, stop, Mars (planet), respect, Aries (star sign), December, the Roman Catholic Church[citation needed], martyrs, the Holy Spirit, conservatism (U.S. politics), wealth (China), marriage (India). Studies show that red can have a physical effect, increasing the rate of respiration and raising blood pressure; red also is said to make people hungry; the red ruby is the traditional 40th wedding anniversary gift. Red is also the color of the devil in modern Western culture.
  • Blue: Seas, men, productive (interior) skies, peace, unity, harmony, tranquility, calmness, trust, coolness, confidence, conservatism, water, ice, loyalty, dependability, cleanliness, technology, winter, depression, coldness, idealism, obscenity, tackiness, air, wisdom, royalty, nobility, Earth (planet), Virgo (light blue), Pisces (pale blue) and Aquarius (dark blue) (star sign), strength, steadfastness, light, friendliness, July (sky blue), February (deep blue), peace, mourning (Iran)[citation needed], truthfulness, love, sadness, aloofness, the Virgin Mary, liberalism (U.S. politics). In many diverse cultures blue is significant in religious beliefs, believed to keep the bad spirits away.
  • Green: Great intelligence, life, nature, bad spirits, spring, fertility, youth, environment, wealth, money (US), good luck, vigor, generosity, go, grass, aggression, inexperience, envy, misfortune, coldness, jealousy, disgrace (China), illness, greed, Marijuana and drug culture, corruption (North Africa), life eternal, air, earth (classical element), sincerity, hope, Cancer (bright green, star sign), renewal, natural abundance, growth, health, August, balance, harmony, stability, calming, creative intelligence, Islam, the ordinary. During the Middle Ages, both green and yellow were used to symbolize the devil. Green is believed to be the luckiest of colors in some western countries including, Britain, Ireland, and the U.S.
  • Yellow: Sunlight, joy, happiness, earth, optimism, intelligence, idealism, wealth (gold), summer, hope, air, liberalism, cowardice, illness (quarantine), hazards, dishonesty, avarice, weakness, greed, femininity, gladness, sociability, summer, friendship, Gemini, Taurus, Leo (golden yellow, star signs), April, September, deceit, hazard signs, death (Middle Ages), mourning (Egypt), courage (Japan), God (gold). Yellow ribbons were worn during times of warfare as a sign of hope as women waited for their men to return.
    During the Middle Ages, both green and yellow were used to symbolize the devil.
  • Purple: Envy, Sensuality, bisexuality, spirituality, creativity, wealth, royalty, nobility, ceremony, mystery, wisdom, enlightenment, arrogance, flamboyance, gaudiness, mourning, profanity, exaggeration, confusion, pride, Scorpio (violet, star sign), May, November, riches, romanticism (light purple), delicacy (light purple), penance. Purple is the color of mourning for widows in Thailand, favorite color of Egypt’s Cleopatra, and the purple heart – given to soldiers who have been wounded during warfare.
  • Orange: Hinduism, Buddhism, happiness energy, balance, heat, fire, enthusiasm, flamboyance, playfulness, aggression, arrogance, gaudiness, overemotion, warning, danger, autumn, desire, Sagittarius (star sign), September. Orange has less intensity or aggression than red and is calmed by the cheerfulness of yellow. Orange is the Royal family of the Netherlands. As such in the Netherlands Orange symbolises royalty and as William of Orange was a Calvinist orange symbolises protestantism particularly in Ireland (Orange Order).
  • Brown: Calm, boldness, depth, natural organisms, nature, richness, rusticism, stability, tradition, anachronism, fascism, boorishness, dirt, dullness, filth, heaviness, poverty, roughness, earth (classical element), October, Capricorn, Scorpio (reddish brown, star signs), down-to-earth. Brown can stimulate the appetite, wholesomeness, steadfastness, simplicity, friendliness, and dependability.
  • Pink: Spring, gratitude, appreciation, admiration, sympathy, femininity, health, love, sex, June, marriage, joy.
  • Gray: Elegance, humility, respect, reverence, stability, subtlety, wisdom, old age, anachronism, boredom, decay, decrepitude, dullness, dust, entanglement, pollution, urban sprawl, strong emotions, balance, neutrality, mourning, formality, March.
  • White: Light, reverence, purity, snow, peace, innocence, cleanliness, simplicity, security, humility, sterility, winter, coldness, criticism, surrender, cowardice, fearfulness, unimaginative, air, fire, death (Eastern cultures),life, marriage(Western cultures), hope, Aries, Pisces (star signs), bland, empty and unfriendly (interior), January, celebration.
  • Black: Absence, modernity, power, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, style, evil, death (Western cultures), fear, anonymity, anger, sadness, remorse, mourning, unhappiness, sex, seriousness, conventionality, rebellion, anarchism, unity, sorrow, life, rebirth (ancient Egypt), slimming quality (fashion), January (Northern Hemisphere only).

When multiple colors are used, a scheme is created. An effective scheme creates a harmonious feel. There are six standard color schemes:

  • monochromatic: tints and shades of a single color.
    Monochromatic blue site

    Monochromatic blue site

  • analogous: colors that are adjacent to one another on the color wheel.
    An example of a analogous color scheme.

    An example of a analogous color scheme.

  • complementary: colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel.<br /
    Complimentary colors (Blue & Orange)

    Complimentary colors (Blue & Orange)

  • split complementary: when two colors adjacent to a base color’s complement.
    An example of a split complimentary color scheme.

    An example of a split complimentary color scheme.

  • triadic: split-complements pushed out one more notch on each side, so that all the colors are equally spaced.


  • tetradic: a four color scheme is one in which any complementary color scheme is combined with another complementary color scheme.



  • Color Matters – Great online resource for how color impact people emotionally.
  • Kuler: – Great online tool from Adobe to locate and create color schemes. Kuler requires the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player.
  • ColorSchemer: – Online color scheme generator.

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