Colours and the emotions they provoke

When colour is used correctly, it can add a tremendous impact to your product or concept. When used incorrectly you can lose this impact and the user can interpret the meaning of the chosen colour wrongful.

Warm colours tend to ‘move toward you’ while cool colours tend to ‘move away from you’. So a designer can use warm colours for emphasis and cool colours to minimize emphasis. Brighter colours on the other hand can attract our eyes first, and if overused, can cause visual confusion. Overusing a bright colour as an accent reduces its effectiveness.

Regardless of what your left brain may tell you, colours symbolize and trigger emotions, memories and ideas or thoughts without you even realizing it. Color creates the user to responses, by stimulating emotions and communicating on levels other than reason and intellect. It can excite, impress, entertain and persuade, but colour can also create instant negative associations.

Emotional responses influence colour considerations and differences in colour value and intensity can evoke very different emotional reactions. Light red is associated with cheerfulness, but bright or dark red can induce irritability. Light yellow-green is associated with freshness and youth, but the darker shade olive is associated with drabness and decay. Light sky blue is associated with tranquility, but the deeper value indigo is associated with depression.

The emotion triggered by a colour depends on nationality, past experiences, and sometimes personal preferences. However, studies have shown that specific colours and combinations of colours can psychologically have an effect on the majority of people, insignificant of their culture or past.

The emotional meanings of these colours below here are basically the meanings of colours in the Western world. Of course the meaning of the colours can be different in every culture. The three primary colours are described broadly. The other meaning of colours you can find in the schedule below.

Red: Red is the first primary colour of the spectrum. It emotionally triggers the sense of power, impulsively, sexuality and increases one’s appetite, but it also can shout anger, forcefulness, impatience, intimidation, conquest, violence and revenge.

Yellow: Yellow is also one of the primary colours. Visually it is the most difficult for your eyes to focus on. It is actually brighter than white and stronger in its emotional impact. It also has a stimulating impact on your memory. It triggers the following emotions; intelligence, joy and organization. Its opposite effects when used in the wrong manner of with the wrong combination of other colours can create feelings of criticism, laziness, or cynicism.

Blue: Blue is the last primary colour of the three basic colours. It is the easiest colour for the eyes to focus on. It generates feelings of tranquility, love, acceptance, patience, understanding and cooperation. Its negative qualities used inappropriately are fear, coldness, passivity and depression. Blue is a favorite colour choice among all age groups.

aggressive, strong, heavy, urgency, passion, heat, love, blood, excitement, strength, sex, speed, danger, action, anger, impulse and impatient
caution, spring, warmth, sunshine, cheerful, happiness, cowardice, brightness and joy
comfort, loyalty, security, truth, dignity, power, coolness, melancholy, heaviness, trust, reliability, belonging, calming and peaceful
excitement, energy, playfulness, warmth, vibrant, positive, enthusiastic, steadfastness, courage, confidence, friendliness, cheerfulness, ignorance, inferiority, sluggishness and superiority
nature, health, cheerfulness, environment, money, vegetation, cool, growth, abundance, jealousy, good luck, harmony, hope, freshness, soothing, sharing, responsiveness, envy, greed, constriction, guilt, jealousy and disorder
religion, wealth, royalty, sophistication, intelligence, royal, spirituality, dignity, nobility, passion and creativity
healthy, childlike, feminine, soft, sweet, nurture and security
dramatic, classy, sophistication, elegant, seductive, mysterious, death, rebellion, strength, evil, serious, mournful and lifeless
business, cold and distinctive
simple, purity, lightness, emptiness, pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild and innocent
prestige and expensive
prestige, cold and scientific
Nature, aged and eccentric

When you want to choose colors for your design, you have to remember a few rules for the mixing of colors. The human eye cannot focus on red and blue/green at the same time. Trying to read red type on a blue/green background or vice versa causes extreme eye fatigue. The user will not be receptive to your message if it hurts him to read it. Never, ever use blue/green type on a red background and even worse, is red type on a blue/green background.

Most colors go well together with members of the same "family". Warm colors of type, such as red, brown, orange and yellow, look better together in combination warm colored backgrounds. Cool colored type like blue, green, gray and white with cool colored backgrounds. When you use colour families generally, it makes it for the user a more appealing object/concept, especially for large amounts of information.

Contrast is fun and can be used effectively to accent information and draw attention to items. In general, keep the contrast low. Too much contrast makes your work difficult to digest, so avoid the extremes.

JunHu: LilianAdmiraal (last edited 2008-10-03 20:19:17 by localhost)