Colour is a powerful and important communication tool, and it is tied to religious, cultural, political and social influences.
By stopping to consider what each colour represents and is linked to in the ‘real world’ we can make informed design decisions that ensure we appeal to our target audience. Without this consideration we run the risk of offending the very people were are designing for.
[Notice: Learn more about colour and design processes at The Future of Web Design New York City on Nov 16-17]
#1 It Affects your Mood
Most of us have a favourite colour or prefer some colours over others. This is because can affect our moods so we surround ourselves in the colours that have a positive impact on our mood.
Red can boost your energy, yellow often makes people feel happier, and blue is proven to bring down blood pressure and slow your heart rate which is why it is often associated with being relaxing. If you combine the happiness of yellow and the relaxing feel of blue you get green, a very pleasing colour for many people.
Mental health units are known to use pastel tones on their walls so that patients feel calm, happy, and relaxed. Walls that are beige with a pink tint combined with mint green floors are a popular combination as it is said to create a soothing, harmonious and calm area. At the other end of the spectrum, literally, schools tend to user bright colours that appeal to children.
When choosing colours for your next design it is important to consider how they will combine and sit with the other elements on the page and what impact that will have on the mood of your audience.
#2 Colours Communicate Invisibly
Wassily Kandinsky was one of the first pioneers of colour theory. A renowned Russian painter and art theorist, he is often considered the founder of abstract art. Kandinsky believed the following colours communicate the following qualities:
- Yellow – warm, exciting, happy
- Blue – deep, peaceful, supernatural
- Green – peace, stillness, nature
- White – harmony, silence, cleanliness
- Black – grief, dark, unknown
- Red – glowing, confidence, alive
- Orange – radiant, healthy, serious
#3 Colour has Cultural Significance
Different colours mean different things in different places. This is extremely important for designers to know because without an awareness of the cultural significance of a particular colour, you risk offending your entire target audience.
Purple for example is a colour of mourning in Thailand. In western culture however, it is associated with royalty, luxury, wealth and sometimes magic. The brand colour for Thai Airways is purple. On first glance this seems like a huge error on their part because as mentioned above, purple is a colour of mourning in Thailand.
It is most likely however, that the Thai Airways website isn’t aimed at locals but at tourists, therefore if westerners view the site and see purple it will associate Thai Airways with values such as luxury and comfort.
Other examples are:
- In western cultures black is a colour of mourning
- In Japan however it is a colour of honour, with white the colour of mourning
- Red in the west represents danger, love, passion
- In India it is a colour of purity, in China it is a colour of good luck and in South Africa it is a colour of mourning
- Yellow represents courage in Japan, mourning in Egypt and hope in the West
#4 Colour can be Inspired by our Surroundings
We live in a colourful world, a world that acts as the perfect inspirational trigger for design. The best thing about looking to the environment for design solutions is that the palette is always changing, from autumnal oranges to cold winter blues. So where better to look than out of your window, take in the colours and then apply them to your designs.
Drawing inspiration from nature for your designs also makes you look at the world differently. Normally we whiz by from place to place but you notice the finer details and undiscovered gems when you actually stop to take it in.
#5 Colour has Political Associations
Individual political parties are associated with one colour or another. Depending on whom your audience is, this might prove to be valuable information when designing.
The association between political parties and colours isn’t a new connection but it is often taken for granted. In the UK for example the following pairings exist:
- Labour – Red
- Conservative – Blue
- Liberal Democrats – Yellow
- The Green Party – Green
If a colour is representative of a political party then the values and behaviours that the party is known for can be suggested through the use of this colour.
- Red is often linked to socialism and communism
- White has links to pacifism and the surrender flag. In contrast to this, black is a colour that is used in conjunction with anarchism.
- Working class Nazism is associated with the colour brown as the SA were known as the ‘brownshirts’.
A design with one of these colours as the dominant shade may well hint at a right wing or a left wing preference or at extreme behaviours.
#6 Religion can be Linked to Colours
As with politics, colours are representative of certain religions. So as not to unintentionally offend anyone through your designs, some examples of these colour/religion associations are:
- Green is considered to be the holy colour of Islam
- Judaism is represented by the colour yellow
- In Hinduism, many gods have blue skin
- White is linked to peace across many religions
Again this may only be necessary information if you are designing a site that has specific links to religion but it also emphasises that a thorough knowledge of your audience is a fundamental part of the design process.
#7 Age Affects People’s Colour Preferences
Colour expert Faber Birren carried out many studies into this area and in his book Color Psychology and ColorTherapy, he states that for both genders, blue and red “maintain a high preference throughout life”. He found that yellow is popular with children but as become move into adulthood it shows less popularity. Birren found that “with maturity comes a greater liking for hues of shorter wave length (blue, green, purple) than for hues of longer wave length (red, orange, and yellow)”
Another factor that influences people’s colour preferences is that throughout their life there will be social and cultural changes and this can directly impact on their favourite colours. Some knowledge of what colours certain age ranges prefer can be valuable for designers. If you were designing a website for a toy store or a children’s TV channel, then knowing they prefer bright colours and yellow in particular would help with your design decisions.
Likewise, if you designed a website for a charity whereby the audience was to be the older generation then blue, green or purple might be ideal, based on Birren’s findings.
Colour is a complex subject with many strands and it has the power to subliminally convey values and stories. Please share your thoughts and opinions about colour, in the comments below.
Life in Colors
- Length: 765 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
How do colors depict lifestyles? I use colors in every part of life. Color is described as a property that surfaces have when light falls on them and is reflected or absorbed. Colors are the basic way that I describe my life. The colors blue, silver, and gold represent a favorite color, an event and or extracurricular activity, and the future that will be committed to after high school.
The color blue which represents the time from when I came into this world up to the years before high school. The color blue started the first day of kindergarten when the teacher said lets go over our colors. As she went through them and then said, “Well, let’s use your favorite color from the one’s we have just gone over.” Of course, the color that went in my hand was the color blue. A few years down the road when I started to pick out clothes, the color blue was in every item that I bought. And to this day the color blue has been my color of choice as long as I can remember. It will always be that color blue that will be in my fancy wardrobe as long as I live.
Silver as a dime, nickel, or quarter is the color that makes up the high school years since starting in the ninth grade. Silver is the color of the star on the uniform for the brigade which I serve proudly. The color silver did not become appealing to me until that night when we (the band) were in Statesboro, Georgia, at the first competition, and we (the band) marched out on the field for our performance and the crowd went crazy. That night when the awards were announced and we came in second out of twenty-two bands, that color silver was the most awesome color ever. Then, we came home and the next weekend we went to Palatka, Florida, and did the same placement. The next year came around, same results. Then it was my junior year and a moment that will never be forgotten. We left on Saturday morning around 9:00 am for Inverness, Florida, and performed the preliminary show at 1:15 pm. The scores came in and that color silver became even more meaningful: we were in first place. That night around 9:30 pm, we entered the field for finals competition. We finished the show, the hats of the directors came off their heads, and the crowd went wild.
How to Cite this Page
|The Colors of Life Essay - The Colors of Life I was sixteen when I found out. The year was 1968. My father and I were in the kitchen, he, in his usual talk-spot by the pantry door, my sixteen year-old self in a chair by the window. The two of us were reminiscing about the time I was a little girl, learning to write the letters of the alphabet. We remembered that, under his guidance, I'd learned to write all of the letters very quickly except for the letter 'R'. "Until one day," I said to my father, "I realized that to make an 'R' all I had to do was first write a 'P' and then draw a line down from its loop.... [tags: Example Personal Narratives]||582 words|
|Racial Diversity and the True Colors of Life Essay - Racial Diversity - The True Colors of Life Think of the world as a box of crayons. A box in which each color stands in its own designated space. Like these crayons, we each have different shades, tints, and most importantly, we all leave marks on our world when used. Some of us will leave a bold, vivid mark that cannot be unnoticed. For others of us, our mark is soft and subtle. Alone, each crayon can only achieve so much in the expression it can make. The way we express ourselves is limited to our own color that is made up of our customs, culture and experiences in life.... [tags: Sociology Racism Prejudice Essays]||973 words|
|Effect of Colors Essay - Do Colors Have an Effect on One’s Current Mood. Colors are a part of one’s everyday life and are introduced into one’s life starting at birth. For example, when a baby is born, the baby is showered with gifts and the color of the gifts is determined by his or her gender (e.g., blue for boys and pink for girls). Children often are dressed in colors associated with their gender. Furthermore, as individuals age and as their vocabulary increases, they tend to learn about associations between moods and colors and sometimes make those associations for themselves.... [tags: Health, Bright Colors, Emotions]||921 words|
| The Effects of Colors on Mood Essay examples - Over the years, researchers have been studying the power of colors to influence every aspect of our life. Furthermore, color has been also employed to describe mood. Some frequently expressions employed when a person is feeling sad is to describe it as “feeling blue” or when a person falls in love is common to hear that this person view the world through “rose-colored glasses.” To be “green with envy” refers to a very jealous person or to “be pure as the snow” describe the innocence of a child.... [tags: Experiment, Positivity, Negativity]|
:: 8 Works Cited
| Essay on True Colors - Love and psychology go together like peanut butter and jelly, It’s Identifying a person’s unique characteristic that can be a difficult endeavor; however, through psychology it can make sense of what otherwise might be a daunting task. There are two women with similar pasts, and their story leads us into a splendid comedy driven romance. Olivia has a vow to forget about men. Viola is in love with the man who loves Olivia. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a controversial talk show, but it is not.... [tags: Shakespearean Literature]|
:: 5 Works Cited
| Swirl of Colors Essay - Swirl of Colors Sandra Cisneros has spent a lifetime trying to discover her own literary voice, only to be drowned out by the mostly white and mostly white voices that she imitated but never identified with. The only daughter in a family with six sons, Cisneros was often the "odd-woman-out-forever" (Ganz 21) early on in life. It was not until she was enrolled in the Iowa Writers Workshop that she finally discovered that her experience as a woman and a Chicana in a male dominated world was the voice that was uniquely hers.... [tags: essays papers]|
:: 4 Works Cited
| Essay on Swirling Colors - Swirling Colors Psychological research has shown different colors to arouse or symbolize different emotions or states of mind. In a color reaction test, the warm colors, most significantly red, but also yellows and oranges, were found to represent an active state of mind. The cooler colors, most significantly blue and green, and also purple, were more passive and calming. “warmth signifies contact with the environment, coolness signifying withdrawal into oneself.” (Sasaki) Red specifically can also symbolize aggression, warning, or danger, or cause an agitated state of emotion.... [tags: Essays Papers]|
:: 3 Works Cited
| The Life and Legend of Gautama Buddha and Springtime Essay - ... After he completed his intense meditation, Buddha was overcome with with a sense of unconditional knowledge. Much like the arrival of spring time just after winter is over, he bursted with life and energy and gave off positive vibes. Gautama followed the Law of Karma, which essentially states that what goes around comes back around. If you commit a heinous act towards somebody, then, in return, something odious will happen to you. Spring portrays similarities to this law. Every year, we experience four seasons.... [tags: life, energy, springtime, enlightment]|
:: 1 Works Cited
| Greek Life at Colleges Essay - Greek Life at Colleges When a student graduates high school, most of them go off to somewhat of a larger college rather then a community one. Going to college means a variety of things: it can mean starting a new life social emotionally and physically, it can mean independence and freedom from close ones, or it can mean totally something indefinable. One of the aspects of all colleges is the social life and the networks all the students make to be successful in the future. Starting a social life is pretty easy but maintaining it along with studies can be quite a handful.... [tags: social, life, networks, friends, enjoyment]|
:: 4 Works Cited
| Primary Colors by Joe Klein Essay - Primary Colors, by Joe Klein, is an entertaining, informing, and controversial novel. Filled with both humor and wit, this book provides a drama filled fictional story, in which Joe Klein purports to describe characters and events that resemble real-life political figures. Joe Klein is an American Journalist and columnist. He is also the political columnist for TIME Magazine. When Klein published his book, Primary Colors, in 1996, he left the author as anonymous and then later published the book under his name.... [tags: Book Review, Literary Analysis]|
:: 4 Works Cited
Colors Saturday Morning Junior Year Silver Awards Dime High School Bands Weekend
Again, the scores came in and the most incredible feeling occurred. That color silver had finally paid off with the Grand Champion trophy coming to Tifton. Returning home on Sunday after a day at Islands of Adventure was so worth the hot days in July: sweating, running and other physical conditions. The next contest was in Sylvester, Georgia. It was a thrill to have a contest so close to home. This contest was just a finals competition and we came out, showed off, and came back to Tifton with, yes, and another Grand Champion trophy. The color silver seemed like a lucky charm to me.
This color has just made an important entrance into my life, and the color gold is its name or origin. Gold became part of my life on July 12th of this calendar year. It’s the first day that I talked to my recruiter about joining the Navy as a career and to using this as money toward college. After a week of talking, the decision was made to move to the next step. On July 19th, I went to Jacksonville, Florida, to get ready to be in the Navy or at least, try to be. This trip was planned around band. I got up at 4:00 AM on the 20th and started the physical, and at 5:00 pm that afternoon, I was sworn in with about seven others. At that point in time, the color gold will always be on me where ever I go and in whatever I do for the rest of my life. The color gold, I say, is the most important color, of my life. Everyone that I come into contact with will know what my goal is to “Reach for the Gold.”
Colors depict lifestyles through the way that a person lives their life. Color clearly defines its self through the person it describes. Colors are the brightest things that I represent with the everyday living of my life and these three colors blue, silver and gold will be with me a lifetime in everything that I do and accomplish.