It’s not just about aesthetics. It’s not just about a favorite color. When it comes to choosing the best website color scheme, it’s also about SEO, website color scheme psychology, and marketing.
In this article, I’ll discuss the importance of choosing the right color palette for your website. And how the wrong choice can cost you visitors, page views, and sales.
There’s a rule in sales and marketing called the 3-Second Rule. The premise is that you only have 3 seconds to make a good impression. On the world wide web, that means your website has 3 seconds to make an impression.
Make a bad impression, and your visitors will bounce away.
Google pays attention to bounce rate. And they will penalize you for making a bad first impression. Even if it comes down to something like the wrong background color or color combination.
The Impact of Your Website Color Scheme on SEO
Image taken from Strikingly product
If you’re just setting up a website for the first time—and especially if you’re building your website on a platform like Strikingly—there may be some terminology and expectations you’re unaware of.
Let’s address those first.
Google remains the biggest search engine. According to a Statista article of October 8, 2021, they’ve maintained a market share of 92.47 since June 2021.
With those numbers in mind, it’s clear that you need to keep Google happy if you want new customers to be able to find you. At least organically. And the greater your organic reach, the less you need to spend on marketing.
To hold on to their immense market share, Google favors websites that offer a great user experience. Having ugly websites with questionable content on the first page of a search will not help them do that.
So what does Google consider a good user experience?
Google’s Good User Experience (UX)
![Valley Isle Aquatics](https://user-images.strikinglycdn.com/res/hrscywv4p/image/upload/blog_service/2021-11-19-Valley-Isle-Aquatics .png "Valley Isle Aquatics")
Image taken from Valley Isle Aquatics
You want to use a perfect palette for a website color scheme in your design. And you want to offer your visitors great content. But those two things need to be part of—and built upon—a good user experience. And your user experience will impact your bounce rate.
Frankly, everything that Google looks for in a good user experience is likely outside the scope of what someone creating their own website can control. Unless you happen to be a developer.
There are several metrics they pay attention to, things like:
- Server response time and how quickly your pages load
- Whether your site is mobile-friendly. The good news here is that if you’re using a platform like Strikingly, your site is mobile-friendly out of the box.
- How interactive your site is
That’s what Google looks for. But Google and its bots can’t understand emotional and physical responses to a website. Which are authentic indicators of user experience.
What do I mean by emotional and physical responses?
Color inspires an emotional response. And certain color combinations make reading nearly impossible for people with specific vision challenges. So even though Google doesn’t include color schemes as part of their UX, there is no question that color will impact user experience.
Ultimately, your choice of color will also impact your bounce rate.
What is Bounce Rate and Why it Matters
When visitors land on your site, whether via Google, an ad, or some form of lead generation, they expect to find specific information. Maybe an answer to a question. Perhaps a product or service.
You’ve created a content-rich website, and you have everything a visitor needs or wants. Unfortunately, your website color scheme or theme isn’t inviting.
The above example is extreme, but you should get the idea. How long can you look at that before your eyes start to hurt? Before you’re thinking to yourself I’m outta here and hitting the back button as fast as possible?
Or in Google speak, bouncing out of there.
If you’re launching a website to get visitors—for whatever reason—you need to pay attention to your bounce rate. If you haven’t already, you can sign up for a Google Analytics account to find the bounce rate for your site.
So what exactly is a “bounce?”
A bounce is when someone lands on your homepage and goes nowhere else before leaving your site. They don’t navigate to another page. They do one of the following:
- Use the back button to back out
- Close the browser tab or window
- Type a new URL in the address bar and navigate to that site
- Leave your site via an external link on your home page
It doesn’t matter why they left. It matters that they left.
According to professional web developers, one of the best ways to improve bounce rate is to have a visually pleasing website.
Something like this.
Image taken from Strikingly product
This example and the “Welcome to my Website” image above are both shades of pink and blue. One is neon and blinding. And it will have your visitors running away screaming. The second, a Strikingly template, is “visually pleasing.”
Let’s dig into the whats and the whys of something that is visually pleasing.
What is Color Theory?
Image taken from Public Domain Pictures
Simply, color theory is a set of principles that govern the relationship between colors themselves and the impact of certain color combinations, both physiological and psychological.
If you’ve done any work with color, you’re probably familiar with the following terms.
If you want to understand color theory, a great way to do so is to take a look at a color wheel. Better yet, play around with one. My favorite is Paletton.
When it comes to the user experience, you want to use color theory to create a sense of harmony. Whether you’re using the colors of your brand or something else, your goal is more than just having a site that just looks nice. Although looking nice is a good thing!
You always want to keep in mind how color can have optical and psychological effects on your visitors.
The Psychology of Color
First, there is no question that the psychological impact of any given color or color combination is entirely subjective. But having said that, there are still almost universal aspects.
Colors have meaning and symbolism. For example:
Red conveys passion and energy. It draws attention and compels action. And it’s used to signal danger. This is why you would never use this for a money or crypto site. You will notice that sites in these verticals like Crypto Exchange Reviews always avoid reds.
Yellow is said to stimulate the logical part of the brain and make learning easier.
Green is relaxing and revitalizes the mind and body, and makes us feel safe and secure.
Turquoise is the color of choice to boost positive mental energy, improve concentration, and clarify thinking processes.
Blue inspires confidence and can encourage a feeling of security and peace.
Brown conveys dependability, stability, and reliability. It inspires feelings of support and protection.
Black is intense and intimidating. It exudes authority and offers security and protection.
Color influences our emotions and often our responses. If you’ve ever spent any time in a hospital, you may have noticed a lot of green and blue in your surroundings. If you cross-reference that with the color descriptions above, it will suddenly make sense.
And what about websites or brand colors?
These companies understand the power of color. They want you to be confident in them. So they use blue in their branding—and on their websites.
What does all this mean for your website and your marketing?
Color Psychology and Marketing
Let’s be clear here. Your website is a marketing channel. It’s the platform you use to introduce and educate your audience about your product, service, or brand. It is the very center of your online presence.
With that in mind, it only stands to reason that you want to do a good job in presentation.
Remember that 3-second rule. Make a good first impression or lose your audience—and ultimately the very people you want to turn into customers.
There’s so much more to the user experience than just keeping them on your site a bit longer and having them visit another page, helping you maintain a healthy bounce rate.
You’re probably building your website with a purpose in mind. Maybe you have a product or service you’d like to sell. So it’s good to realize that the color combination of your website is important.
You want to convert your visitors.
And you can use the psychology of color to do that. Just keep in mind there are no guarantees because, as mentioned above, how individuals react to color is completely subjective.
So not everyone will have the same emotional response. And things like your industry and the demographics of your customers, such as culture, beliefs, and gender can also impact responses.
For example, research shows that men and women tend to favor different colors except for blue, which seems to be a favorite primary color of both sexes.
Other than that, women commonly prefer softer shades of:
Men, on the other hand, prefer more vivid tones of these above colors.
A few things to keep in mind, however. Gender issues are much more fluid than they once were, so it stands to reason that color preferences may be more fluid as well.
Another point. This isn’t some kind of spell or hocus pocus where you use color X on your website, and your visitors are suddenly in a trance and compelled to do what you want them to. But how I wish I had that power!
Website Elements and your Color Scheme
There are specific areas of your website where you can use color to convey your message.
First, your hero graphics. This is the large banner or image section of your site that a user first sees. It’s an introduction of sorts that typically has very little text and maybe a call to action.
Here is an example of hero graphics taken from Strikingly’s theme collection. And keeping with the blue/pink trend I have going on.
Image taken from Strikingly product
From there, other key areas are:
- Your headline. This is the text that often overlays your hero graphics, such as “Pastry Corner” in the example above
- Background colors or images
- Navigation and menu bars
- Popups and popovers
So how do you take all we’ve talked about so far and use that to boost your website conversion? Not to mention reduce your bounce rate?
If you’re using a web builder platform, it’s often easy to change color palettes. So if you try something new, you can always track your analytics to see if the change has improved bounce rate and conversion. Choose the right color scheme by keep testing until you feel you have it right.
Don’t use colors that clash with the colors you need to keep. Your logo and branding colors. Remember the emotions that each color evokes and then use them according to your brand's messaging.
And don’t go too far and use too many colors. Especially when those colors say different things. All you’ll do is confuse your visitors.
Now let’s take all that knowledge and put it into practice. I’ve talked extensively about why it’s important to choose the right color scheme for your website, but you may still be wondering how.
How to Choose the Best Website Color Scheme
Image taken from Strikingly product
You can use Strikingly layout settings to change the background of the layout and set the best color scheme.
I’ve covered most of the reasons behind why color use is important, but it’s time to talk about practicalities. How you go about choosing background colors and the perfect palette for a website color scheme.
Here are several tips and steps that should help you to choose the best website color scheme.
Know and Understand Your Audience
If you have a product or service you plan to sell on your website, or even if you just have a topical website where you just share information, you’ll have a target audience.
In some cases, determining your audience may be fairly simple. For example, you can safely assume that if you’re selling makeup, for the most part, your audience will be women.
But what if it’s more difficult to gauge your demographic? Let’s say your website is an information portal for credit cards. Anyone can have a credit card. They could be any gender from any country or socioeconomic background.
In this case, you would want to use color to address an emotional need. Culture and gender would likely be irrelevant. So using red, which can signify danger, would be a wrong choice. Using blue, which instills confidence, or brown, which conveys dependability and reliability, would be the wiser color choice. Here is how Credit Card Reviews has adapted this color scheme.
Is your audience worldwide or more regional? Again, color choice is important here.
A cross-cultural study on color showed that all nationalities associated specific colors with different emotions, but other nationalities had additional colors associated with the same emotions.
- All nationalities: Red or black = anger, fear, envy, and jealousy
- Polish: Purple = jealousy
- Germans: Yellow = envy and jealousy
- Americans: Green = envy
- Russians: purple and yellow = envy
So exercise some caution when it comes to color choice if you have a worldwide audience. Especially if your brand has a specific message you want to convey.
Image taken from Paletton
Now that you know who your audience is and have hopefully chosen an appropriate color, you need to choose the right color scheme by considering a color palette or the color combinations you want to use on your site.
This is where a color wheel comes in. It was invented in 1666 by Isaac Newton and it’s the basis of color theory. It helps you understand the relationship between colors.
At this point, it’s important to understand the nuances of color. You need to understand why some colors work together. Or, make your life much simpler and just play around with the color wheel.
Color combinations are made up of the following:
Complementary colors. These are colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. For example, in the image of the wheel above, red and green are opposite of each other.
Split complementary colors. This involves three colors. The complement of your base color and the two colors on either side of it.
Triad and tetradic colors. Triads are any three colors that are of equal distance on the wheel and tetradic are any four colors. The color wheel image above shows tetradic colors.
Analogous colors. These are beside each other on the color wheel.
Monochromatic colors. Varying shades of the same color.
Both examples of website themes shown on this page are pink and blue. For that matter, so is the bad, blinding example. Referencing the color wheel shown above once again, you’ll see that pink and blue are tetradic colors.
You don’t need to understand color theory to be able to create the perfect palette for a website color scheme. It’s extremely complex. All you need to do is use a color wheel.
Any color combination that the color wheel provides you with will be pleasing to your viewers. Meaning, the less you need to worry about your bounce rate.
Keep it Simple
I know all of the above sounds complicated and a bit mind-bending. Because it is!
There are millions upon millions of color shades so it’s easy to see how things could get complicated.
The good news for your website is that simplicity is often the best choice. Too many colors will complicate things. Just a few colors will mean your visitors have less to process. They can focus on your content instead of being distracted.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the right website color scheme. And it can be intimidating if you’re doing so for the first time.
It may seem that color should be one of the last things you need to worry about. After all, it should all be about your content, right?
Yes, providing a great user experience will be about content. But people leaving your site before they even read your content is a signal to Google that you shouldn’t be placed high on the search results page.
And one of the main reasons behind high bounce rates is because of annoying website color schemes. Just keep in mind there are several reasons why someone might be annoyed.
Of course, there is no way to please everyone. But if you know your audience, you have a better chance of keeping your visitors on your site—and hopefully converting them to buyers.