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Colours in the age of technology

by Sumeet Swarup

Imagine having a bright red fridge sitting in your kitchen, or a bright orange television in your living room. There is a strong reason why most of our everyday gadgets around the house tend to have neutral colours such as black, white, silver and grey. Fridge, microwave, television, mobile, laptop, Alexa and Google Home – they are all telling us one thing – “don’t look at me, instead look at the wonderful things I can do for you”.

The same philosophy takes place for the digital products also – think websites and mobile applications. The colours are there to help the digital product achieve its goals – be attractive, lower bounce rate, increase engagement, repeat visits, sales, conversions, stickiness of brand, etc.

Although there are no absolute truths about the usage of colours, general guidelines for their usage in digital products is helpful.

The colours need to be aesthetic. This is of course, the starting point, the product has to look good and inviting, and the colours should serve that purpose.

Are the colours warm or cool? Greens and blues (associated with nature) are cool colours. Red and yellow (associated with sun and fire) are warm colours. Try wearing a bright yellow sweater on a sunny afternoon – you will shine.

The colours have to appeal to your target audience and demographic. If a 70 year old grandma sees red hot colours on the screen, she might find them jarring and shut off immediately.

The colours should have symphony with the product you are selling or promoting. For a kids site, black will not do. For a site booking funerals, yellow will not do.

The colours should complement the content on the page. If the headline on your page is about a plane crash, it will help if the surrounding colours are not hot and bright, but instead sombre colours of black, white and grey.

The colours should appeal to the emotion you are targeting in the viewer. Red and yellow = excitement and energy; black = luxury; grey = heaviness, pensive; blue = trust; green = money, nature

The colours should be focused towards increasing conversion. If you have bright colours everywhere, but the call to action button is neutral and muted, the viewer will likely miss it

Finally, and this is new. If you have a colour scheme for your web and mobile, how do you use this for your social media content (articles, quotes, infographics, photos and video)? Do the two clash and demote your content, or the two work in harmony to let the content do the talking?

Colours for digital products is a huge and complicated area and comes under the broad field of design. A good start point for your product is to answer a few basic questions – (a) what is your product and content you are trying to showcase and sell? (b) Who is your target audience and demographic? Most people are trying to cater to everyone from 18 to 70, but in trying to be everything to everyone, you land up being nothing for no-one. It’s good to start with a limited demographic and broaden as you move ahead (c) what is the behaviour and actions you are trying to elicit from them? (d) What are the metrics you are trying to measure (e) which social media platforms will work for your target audience and the targeted behaviour? (f) What is your engagement and content strategy for social media platforms?

Of course, for Holi, you don’t need to think or strategize so much. Just grab some colours and have fun. Happy Holi to everyone!!

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