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Color psychology does matter! A success story.

kmrivard 04-21-15
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Color psychology does matter! A success story.

Hi guys! This is my first community post here, but I wanted to share a success story. For some background: at my day job, I'm a UX/SEO/content specialist for an agency that specializes in higher education -- in the evenings, I moonlight as a digital strategy consultant for small businesses and non-profits.


Traditionally in higher education, we use "quick contact forms" visible on every page to drive prospects to contact the school. In fact, these inquiries tend to be one of the biggest metrics of success our clients judge us by.


I have one client at my agency that I'm completely dedicated to, and they deal with a lot of brand identity issues. Because of that, they tend to be very staunch about wanting to stick to brand-specific colors on certain parts of their site. Being stately and traditional, of course they want as much navy blue as possible. A typical website conversion rate is between 1-2% for higher education -- this particular site was running at 0.5%.


So, the quick contact form was a pretty mundane shade of navy blue with a muted red button. Very traditional, and not at all eye-catching.


After months of hand-holding and coaxing, they finally allowed us to test the form in tertiary colors from their brand standards, rather than the navy and red that are prominant in their primary branding.


So, we tested a green form with a golden-orange button. We know that green is a color of empowerment, engagement and optimism, whereas navy blue tends to be more passive. We also know that red buttons tend to evoke a sense of concern or emergency, whereas orange has reflected more of a positive but still immediate energy. And the way in which the form was designed still evoked a sense of stateliness and tradition.


We saw a 58.3% increase in form submissions with the new form.


While this doesn't bridge the gap entirely to meet industry averages, continued testing and UX improvements on the site (until they complete a total rebuild early next year) will, hopefully, incrementally get us closer.


My primary takeaways from this:

  • Clients sometimes need to be saved from themselves. This particular client is very shy about taking risks, and to them, brighter, less stately colors may have violated the user experience. Instead, we ended up seeing vast improvement.
  • Tending to tertiary brand colors is important. Your website can still be cohesive and user-friendly with a variety of colors...when done right. Consistency still matters here, so developing a strong style guide to incorporate all these colors in a tasteful, user-friendly way is important.
  • Color psychology is not dead. I've run into folks trying to say that color usage is a dead science, and that a good site will perform well regardless of color choice -- I know everyone in this community is likely aware of the power of color psychology, but this reiterates that the devil is the details, and color is an important detail.

Thoughts? Feedback? Questions? 

Level 2

Mario 04-22-15

Re: Color psychology does matter! A success story.

Hi Kmrivard,

Thanks for sharing your success story with the Optiverse community. I think this is a really good example to show how color changes affect the user's behaviour.

Please keep us updated if you do further color experiments on the client's website. It would be interesting to hear about your experience on that.

Does anyone else have similar success stories to share?

All the best,
Sr. Technical Support Engineer
EMEA | Amsterdam
Shanann 04-22-15

Re: Color psychology does matter! A success story.

Wow, what a great example of how something that seems small, can make a huge impact! I encourage you to submit this story, or others, for an Optie Award this year!
Amanda 04-29-15

Re: Color psychology does matter! A success story.

I know that @ReneeThompson and @Brian_DeLoach have also had some stellar results from testing colors of buttons and backgrounds on landing pages. Would you be willing to add to your experiences to this success story? 


Re: Color psychology does matter! A success story.

Yes, we've done quite a bit of testing, particularly on landing pages, with color. We like to remind people that it isn't always about the "big red button," although we've had a lot of success with that particular color. In some scenarios red can be construed negatively (danger/error), but for us - in a B2B technology environment - red has worked well in many instances for call-to-action buttons. However - the main thing we've learned is that it isn't about using red; it's about using the best contrasting color. Depending on the color scheme of a site/page, the best color for a call to action button is one that contrasts well.

With background colors on landing pages specifically, we haven't necessarily found certain colors to work better than others, but we've certainly seen that by encapsulating an area (in our case, the registration area where the call to action is) with a backgroudn color, we see higher conversion.

I think it's all about testing, though - since no two sites or pages are the same.

Renée Thompson
kmrivard 04-30-15

Re: Color psychology does matter! A success story.

So I work in close partnership with our PPC buyer, who manages the strategy of the paid promotion landers. They've done some pretty aggressive A/B testing on their landing page mini-site and found some very similar findings -- their primary color scheme is navy blue and green, but they're now also using orange buttons to stand out against the cooler, more analogous color scheme. Complementary matters.

It's a little trickier with warm color schemes, I feel. Reds and oranges and yellows can be so overwhelming that cool complementary colors can feel a little "drowned" out. And colors a little "off primary" tend to work better as a cool complementary to warm colors -- i.e. from an anecdotal standpoint, we've found teal or turquoise performs a little more favorably than a more sedated blue. I tend to prefer bright CTAs on cooler/neutral backdrops, though.
Level 2
ben 05-20-15

Re: Color psychology does matter! A success story.

Thanks for sharing really enjoyed reading. I agree with your comment about hand holding clients.
Ben Cole
Optimization Co-ordinator at Widerfunnel

Level 2