PANTONE Color Institute

Color in the Digital World

LAURIE PRESSMAN

Pantone Color Institute
August 5, 2016

Color defines our world. Impactful and influential, color elicits emotion and guides behavior, making the understanding of how to strategically apply color a critical element of an integrated design process. As Leatrice Eiseman, Director Pantone Color Institute explains, “With about 80% of human experience filtered through our eyes, visual cues are vital in getting a message across.” And no place is this taking on greater importance than in the digital world, where more and more of us are spending a majority of our time.

Pixels of Colors

In the digital world color can be your most important asset. Used effectively color is the communication tool which connects together all of the visual elements of a page. With its ability to direct attention and unconsciously persuade, color can be used to subliminally lead the user’s eye around the page and through the site, influencing consumer engagement and purchasing decisions.

The balance between white space and color is also of critical importance. Where color may be used to emphasize important features, white space creates contrast, providing a break for the eyes. Yes, bold and vivid shades are great attention-grabbers, however, if color and contrast is not used in proportion, or if the color combinations are not aesthetically pleasing, the overall impression can cause confusion. When the eye doesn’t know where to look, color can instead act as a deterrent to engagement rather than an invitation.

Color psychology should also be considered. Each color has its own message and meaning. Using the appropriate colors or color story to communicate your message will help evoke the response you are looking for. This is especially critical in the digital space where because there is no physical environment to stimulate your sense of smell, taste or touch, visual cues play an outsize role.

For example, because turquoise shades are closely associated with water and tropical settings, it is consistent with expectation to see this shade range used online as a back ground or complementary shade for a web site focused on vacation destinations, swim related products or a feeling suggestive of escape. However this same shade of turquoise might not be nearly as powerful in the digital space if used to highlight a new brand of chocolate or coffee, where instead the right shades of brown may be what’s needed to create the mouth- watering appeal that will lead to a purchase.


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