The Power of Colours

The Power of Colours
Colour is an essential factor of the design world. It’s a major tool that designers use to connect to people they are targeting to through their work. So it is not only about making beautiful layouts and unique designs – it’s about sending a particular message to the outer world. Colours provide emotional and visual cues. It’s important to remember that designer’s choice of colours shouldn’t depend on its taste and sense of beauty. It’s so much more than that – that’s why understanding the colour theory and psychology should be the first step every designer makes before creating any artwork.

The psychology of colours might not seem to affect us in an everyday life, although we are all surrounded by so many shades of them everywhere at all times. Colours do have a massive impact on our mood, behaviour and emotions. Our mind unconsciously reacts to colours once they are perceived, sending the signals to the brain and releasing the hormones. Wisely selected colours help to send the correct message you’d like the user to receive and increase the usability of the product. Other things to always keep in consideration are the audience and their demands. There are many factors that differ, such as age, culture and gender. And more importantly, the colours you use in your design project say a lot about the work and the author itself.

The significance of colours was already being talked about a few hundred years ago. German writer and philosopher from the XVIII – XIX century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published the book “Theory of Colours” in 1810, already mentioning the psychological impact of colours, which is still considered to be one of the most relevant books to this day. Here are some of the of the author’s colour specific highlights taken from the book (src Designs Hack):

  • Red: “The effect of this colour is as peculiar as its nature. It conveys an impression of gravity and dignity, and at the same time of grace and attractiveness. … History relates many instances of the jealousy of sovereigns with regard to the quality of red. Surrounding accompaniments of this colour have always a grave and magnificent effect.”
  • Yellow: “In its highest purity it always carries with it the nature of brightness, and has a serene, gay, softly exciting character. … State is agreeable and gladdening, and in its utmost power is serene and noble, it is, on the other hand, extremely liable to contamination.”
  • Blue: “As a hue it is powerful — but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose. … As the upper sky and distant mountains appear blue, so a blue surface seems to retire from us.”
  • Green: “If the two elementary colours {yellow and blue} are mixed in perfect equality so that neither predominates, the eye and the mind repose on the result of this junction as upon a simple colour. The beholder has neither the wish nor the power to imagine a state beyond it.”

Simply speaking, we can put the meaning of colours in a couple of words:

  • Red. Confidence, youth, and power.
  • Orange. Friendly, warm, and energetic.
  • Yellow. Happiness, optimism, and warmth.
  • Green. Peace, growth, and health.
  • Blue. Trust, security, and stability.
  • Purple. Luxurious, creative, and wise.
  • Black. Reliable, sophisticated, and experienced.
  • White. Simple, calm, and clean.

Our advice – choose your colours wisely. A good designer puts the audience first considering all the aspects that might influence the message he wants to send and the audience’s feelings towards it. Picking the colours should not be random at all – it should be organised, objective and matching the way they have to be matched (put aside your personal favourite colours or a gut feeling).

But don’t forget to have fun with the process and always keep experimenting – sometimes the best artworks are created when you least expect it!