When it comes to setting your business up for success, there’s a lot you can do to stack the deck in your favor. You can get clear on your branding, develop a solid marketing strategy, rewrite your copy over and over until it converts like crazy… You get the idea. But there’s one subtle magic trick you might not be using that can influence your audience David Blaine-style: website color schemes.

Color psychology is the idea that color can actually influence very specific behaviors, reactions and feelings within your audience. By using the right website colors, you can get your audience to think, feel and interact with your brand just the way you want them to.

Let’s take a look at what color psychology is and how to use it to your advantage. Plus, we’ll see some website color schemes that will get your audience right where you want them.

What the heck is color psychology?

If you’re thinking, “I don’t remember covering color in my psych undergrad class. Was I absent that day?” let’s briefly go over the definition. Color psychology is “the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior.” In other words, its how color affects people and the way they behave.

Brand personality traits and colors

According to color psychology, different colors inspire different emotions, feelings and behaviors in people. While we can’t dig into all the ways colors influence us, here’s a brief overview of the psychological properties of the major colors of the rainbow.

The meaning of colors

Red: Energy, excitement, passion, and danger. Red’s a great color to use when you’re trying to get people to take action.

Orange: Happiness and cheer. Orange is universally seen as a “fun” color and using it in your branding is a great way to show you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Yellow: The color of sunshine, yellow is associated with happiness and joy. Super cheerful and accessible.

Green: When people see green, they think of two things: nature and money. Green has also been shown to have a calming effect, so if you’re going for a soothing vibe, it’s a good bet.

Blue: The most versatile and universally liked. Blue has been shown to inspire feelings of trust, making it a heavy favorite among brands. In fact, blue appears in over half of all logos.

Purple: The color of royalty, purple has a regal edge that’s both authoritative and edgy.

Pink: While it’s traditionally been used in female-centric branding, different shades of pink can also be used to create a more youthful vibe that appeals just as strongly to men (#realmenwearpink). Pink is also the color for Breast Cancer Awareness, so there’s a strong philanthropic tie to the color.

Black: Classic, sleek and modern, black is a color of luxury that’s great for higher-end brands.

White: Sometimes the best color is no color at all. White is a universally appealing shade for branding purposes and is primarily used as an accent color.

Gray: If you’ve got a more serious brand, gray is a great color choice. It’s mature, it’s authoritative, and it shows people you mean business.

Use the right color scheme to capture a feeling

You’ve got the skinny on color psychology, so how can you make it work in your favor? Use the right color scheme to get your audience to do exactly what you want.

Website color schemes that excite an audience

Depending on your business model, one thing you might be hoping to get from your website visitors is a level of enthusiasm and excitement. Excited consumers do many things, one of which is buy.

A great example of website color schemes that excite an audience are children’s brands. These brands want to make kids excited. And excited kids beg their parents to buy whatever clothing or toy or bouncy house that company is selling. Excitement = good business.

Color hex codes: #e7e7e7, #ea9a4a, #56b4b7, #c73237, #87b748. Via Gymboree.

How do they get that level of excitement? By using bright, vibrant colors that match the level of intensity they’re looking for from their audience. Kids are a lively bunch, and they’re drawn to colors that match that level of liveliness. You’d be hard pressed to find a child who claims beige or chartreuse as a favorite color.

Children’s brand or not, using bright, vibrant colors in your branding will get your audience all revved up and ready to drop some major dollars.

Website color schemes that increase brand sentiment

As we mentioned earlier, different colors inspire different reactions in different groups of people. But there are certain colors that are universally liked across the board. This is great for building brand loyalty and positive brand sentiment, which will help you close more business down the line.

So, what colors should you use if you want universally likeable appeal? Blue and green.

Color hex codes: #2f435e, #44566c, #ececec, #4b5e65, #201b22. Design by Xsandra.

According to a frequently cited color study, both men and women listed blue and green among their favorite colors, with 35% of women and a whopping 57% of men claiming blue as their top color and 14% of both men and women choosing green.

By working blue and green into your website color scheme, you’re widening the percentage of people that you’re going to appeal to. You’ll create a positive emotional connection from the get-go and before long, you’ll find yourself running around your office screaming, “They like me! They really like me!”

Website color schemes that add credibility

On the flip side, if you’re going for a more serious vibe, excitement isn’t what you’re after: it’s credibility. You can get that street cred with your visitors by using a more neutral, muted palette (with one or two accent colors for emphasis). Using a bright color palette will feel too loud and can discredit you if you’re in a more serious line of business, like retirement planning or insurance.

People associate neutrals like black, brown, and gray with serious matters. If your goal for your website is to be taken seriously, using those colors can help you get there with your audience.

Color hex codes: #962d21, #df4937, #ededed, #333333, #d49625. Via AARP.

Website color schemes that increase trust

Want to be viewed as a stable and trustworthy brand? Use blue. Blue has been shown to increase feelings of trust and is a great choice to frame yourself as a brand your consumers can put their faith in. That’s why it’s such a heavy favorite in corporate America; over 53% of corporate logos feature the color blue.

Color hex codes: #363636, #2b73b3, #4db3e9, #e8362c, #ffffff. Via Citi
Color hex codes: #000000, #e7e7e7, #2473ea, #9a9a9a, #5e3930. Via Chase

Use the right colors to drive conversions

Just like you can use color to inspire specific feelings, you can also use it to inspire specific actions, too. Using color in a strategic way is a great way to get your audience to do exactly what you want them to do. Or, in other words, drive conversions.

There’s no one website color scheme that’s guaranteed to convert like crazy (in a perfect world, right?). It’s more about using color in strategic ways and strategic places to inspire the specific action you want.

Want your audience to click on your call to action button? Go with red, which was shown to increase conversions by 34%.

Color hex codes: #f9fbfc, #203961, #a2cdb8, #e1755e, #5d554b. Design by Clean Imagination.

Want someone to play your new game? Try green, which has been shown to spark creativity.

Color hex codes: #316117, #90b644, #ffffff, #e98341, #f2fefe. Design by MASER.

Use specific colors so your action-oriented content jumps off the screen and says “Hey! Look at me!” You’ll increase the number of people engaging with that content and increase your conversions right along with it.

Use the right website color scheme for your industry

Just like there’s no surefire way to increase conversions, there’s no rulebook on the right colors for a specific industry. But even if there are no set-in-stone rules, certain color associations have been shown to be successful.

Green for eco-friendly brands

Because green is so heavily associated with nature, green is a top choice for eco-friendly brands.

Color hex codes: #28634f, #509534, #ffffff, #22486c, #607447. Via Seventh Generation.

Blue for water

Blame the ocean (or as Finding Nemo called it, “The Big Blue”), but when people think water, they think blue. If you’re a water or water-related brand, you’ll make waves by using blue in your branding.

Color hex codes: #3789c5, #43a1db, #deebf0, #fffd63, #ffffff. Via Nestle
Color hex codes: #d76050, #4f6ea2, #798ba1, #a12d1c, #d7e3ed. Design by Prabin Manandhar

Blue for finance

If you’re a finance-based company, the number one thing you need your customers to feel about you is trust. That’s why blue, the color of trustworthiness, is a great choice.

Color hex codes: #184a73, #c3423d, #343f4d, #51aa3a, #bdd7e2. Via CapitalOne.

Red for retail

If you’re in the business of selling products (brick and mortar or e-commerce), red is the way to go. Red sparks excitement and makes your customers want to buy from you. And if you don’t believe me, just look at the numbers: a whopping 59% of retailers have red in their logo and branding.

Color hex codes: #363636, #b82b21, #62aaa7, #f6f6f6, #f6f0e9. Via Target.

Get (color) scheming

As an entrepreneur, you want to do everything in your power to inspire your audience to follow you, engage with you, and ultimately buy from you. And if leveraging the colors of the rainbow gets you there, we say go for it.

Figured out what color scheme you want for your website? Launch a web design contest today to make it a reality!