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Colour psychology in call to action button design

The psychology of colour is a fascinating subject. Different colours and shades can have drastic impacts on what we can do and how we feel. Studies have shown, for example, that weightlifters in blue rooms can handle more weight and that eaters in restaurants with red, orange and yellow colour schemes eat more food faster (which is why almost all fast food joints have those colours inside). Pastel greens and blues are calming, and white looks clean and sterile.

Colours have these impacts on us for a variety of reasons, be they cultural, environmental or based on our past experiences, and many people are taking advantage of the associations we have with colours. Website owners and internet marketers in particular are turning to this fascinating subject to see just how the psychology of colour affects how users respond to call to action buttons. Below is what these owners are learning and how you can apply the lessons to your own site.

What is a call to action button?

A call to action is a phrase or image on a website designed specifically to get people to do certain activities. When that activity involves clicking an image, that image is a call to action button. Call to action buttons are often used to invite a user in to browsing the website further.



In both of the examples, the calls to action buttons, circled, urge the user to do something, whether it’s buy the PlayStation 4 or sign up to Netflix. The colours of the call to action buttons don’t necessarily go with the brands’ colour schemes. Instead, the colours of the call to action buttons are based on what will get people clicking.

What are the effects of different colours?

Although research has shown that everyone has various reactions to different colours, those reactions aren’t universal. The can depend on cultural associations and other subjective factors. Red, for example, is associated with luck and success in China, so businesses often use red in their colour schemes. In the West, red is associated more often with danger or love, which may or may not be what you want for your business.

Some colours, especially natural ones, tend to have more universal associations. A soft blue, for example, is evocative of a clear blue sky or calm waters, both of which are soothing to almost all humans, pretty much regardless of cultures.

As we’re in the West, we’ll deal with Western associations, but if you have an international website, you will need to keep in mind other cultures’ colour associations.

Generally speaking, warmer colours like red, orange and yellow are friendlier and tend to create a sense of urgency in the viewer. Cooler colours like green, blue and purple feel more serious and reliable.

So which colours get people clicking?

The colours that get people to do what you want depend on what you want people to do. There are generally three colours that get people clicking.

Red is one of the easiest colours to spot, and it draws the eye almost instantly. For that reason, red is ideal for buttons where you want people to act quickly, like if you want them to join your group.

A yellowish orange generates feelings of warmth and friendliness in users, largely because it brings to mind the warmth of the sun. That makes it perfect for e-commerce sites: customers will feel happy and safe, which will make them more likely to buy.

Finally, green means go, which makes it a great colour for call to action buttons. People associate it with green traffic lights and nature, so it can be both calming and motivating. If your website is associated with nature, peace or psychology (or any other site where visitors may for whatever reason need extra pushes to do certain actions), then green can be just the colour to get people clicking.

Of course, the effects of colours can be contextual as well, so you may find that red, orange and green don’t work well for you. At the end of the day, the best way to find the most effective colour for your call to action buttons is simply to change the colours, track user reactions and see which colours work for your site and your visitors.









About the author

Libby French is the director for Her favorite part of her job is working along side her talented team. In her spare time, Libby enjoys keeping up to date with tech and design trends.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.