It can be argued that the best part of a guest’s stay is that moment when they first arrive—feeling welcomed, relaxed, safe, and ready to take on the world. What if we could evoke this feeling even before a customer decides to book?
In a post-COVID world and the age of mass digitisation, it’s crucial to utilise every opportunity to make a lasting impression with online visitors. By using colour psychology, we take advantage of one of the most important design tools there is.
And why shouldn’t we? The effort we place in acknowledging and catering to a guest’s feelings when they walk through the doors during their first visit should be the same level of effort we place in our presence online.
Creating an emotional impact
In a study by Satyendra Singh, it was determined that it only takes about 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion on a product and 62% to 90% of that is determined by the product’s colour. Colour has an innate power to define mood and elicit quick responses. Ever wonder why online notifications are red? Red colours can increase heart rate and motivate people to take action.
But every person is different, right? Age, gender, and even culture have proven to be contributing factors in how someone perceives different colours. Colours have particular meanings for people that have been personally and even socially enforced.
For example, in Western countries, white is the colour used to represent purity and innocence, whilst in many Eastern countries, this colour is seen as a symbol of mourning. According to a study by N.Yoshioka, blue is perceived as a colour of calm across most cultures.
How do you want to make your website visitors feel?
Colour psychology in practice
Studies have indicated that certain colours have the same psychological effects on the majority of the population. In a report from the Journal of Experimental Psychology, it was found that shades of blue, green, and purple were viewed as the most pleasant while shades of yellow were considered the least pleasant. The results were “highly consistent”, and the relationship between the emotional responses were “highly predictable”.
This means that there is a standard emotional response to certain colours. We react to them without even knowing it during our day-to-day lives.
And while there are trends within the hotel industry, e.g. hostels tend to have bright and young colours such as bright pink, yellow, neon green and purple, whereas luxury hotels tend to stick to classic colours such as burgundy, blue, gold and black—there are no definitive rules. In order to succeed in using the right colour psychology, you need to follow the core principles which are: right way, right time, right audience and right purpose.
For example, blue is a colour that cultivates trust and safety. It’s no accident that there are so many financial and medical brands who opt for a predominantly blue logo or website. In the world of hospitality, hostels will often use yellow as the main colour since it elicits a sense of youth, extroversion, and encourages communication.
But how do we acquire customers using colour psychology?
Communication through design
Strategically placed components paired with thoughtful colour solutions can drastically change your messaging from a screen of plain text to an easy-to-navigate visual road map. This method clearly tells the visitor what they should interact with, what content is the most important, and where they should go.
Studies have also shown that changing a brand’s colours can contribute to an increased conversion rate of up to 24%.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution or a correct colour that will work across all platforms. So, how do you choose? First, study the market you want to attract based on age, gender, culture and the colour language they will respond best to. If there are other hotels you identify with that have a strong brand personality, do some competitive research. What works for them that could also work for you? Identify one or two adjectives that describe your brand. Focus on key differentiators that set you apart from the competition. Once you’ve figured out your brand’s main personality traits, find the colour that best embodies those traits.
Once you’ve decided on a core colour, you can find secondary and complementary colours. There are a number of online tools that make it extremely easy to put together a colour palette.
In the design world, there’s a 60-30-10 rule which says that only 10% of any design should be a bright, dominant accent colour. Here’s how it works:
60% is the main colour for your website. Typically, the 60% on a webpage would be your background. The strategy behind this is that the 60% colour anchors everything on the page and creates a consistent backdrop for your brand.
30% is the secondary colour. You would use half as much of this colour as your main colour. These could be headers, footers, text, and accent designs. The secondary colour should support the main colour but is different enough to set them apart and give the page interest.
10% is the accent colour. This is usually the CTA, time-sensitive content, and notifications.
In short, keep backgrounds and large sections neutral and use core brand colours to add visual interest with icons, graphics, and imagery.
But how can colours impact your website’s overall conversion rate? Can colour psychology motivate visitors to click ‘Book Now’?
Driving conversions with a strong CTA
It’s been proven that the highest-converting colours for calls to action are strong and bright primary and secondary colours—red, green, orange, yellow. When designing a call-to-action button, you want to capture a visitor’s attention and motivate them to take action.
White space and contrasting colours can be useful in drawing attention to certain aspects of a design, like a form or CTA. If one aspect of your design stands out from the rest, it will likely be the first thing your viewers look at.
The “isolation effect,” also known as the von Restorff effect, states that you remember items and visual cues better if they stand out against a contrasting background. In the practice of colour psychology and design-thinking, the isolation effect occurs when a focus item, such as a CTA, is the only item of a specific colour on the screen.
This explains why yellow and orange against the white or grey backgrounds are the most used website buttons and have a noticeably high click-through rate. Yellow can activate the brain’s anxiety area and orange has the ability to stimulate confidence as well as create a sense of urgency.
But every brand is unique, so how can you know which colours will convert best for YOUR guests?
Testing, testing, testing,
Assumptions will kill conversion rates, so it’s important to approach your online messaging in a more scientific manner. Even successful companies like Netflix prioritise experimentation and A/B testing.
To discover which placement and combination of your brand colours encourage the most conversion, you need to run tests. By A/B testing your brand colours, you will be able to see which colours website visitors react to more strongly and are more inclined to click on.
Here’s a checklist and detailed guide to use while running your A/B tests. A/B testing will give you the insights to determine which colour combinations and positions work best for you to generate maximum leads and conversions. Apply it to your website and continue to experiment with colours and colour contrast, brightness and saturation.
When you have something of value to offer, you want visitors to take action and convert to receive that value. If your communication is not clear, your audience won’t understand the value and won’t convert. This is where colour and design can help get your message across to a global audience.
Using psychology (in this case, colour psychology), in your overall messaging brings your branding and product offering together in a comprehensive way that visitors can easily understand. This method avoids any confusion as to what you want them to do on your website and empowers visitors to become customers, quickly and happily.
How do you plan to implement colour psychology in your web design process?
Editors note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been refreshed and updated for accuracy and new best practices.