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The importance of colors in usability

September 14th, 2009 No comments

Have you tried the following visual exercise:

Say out loud the color of the words below (not the actual words) as fast as you can:
It is difficult because the left and right parts of your brain are telling you different things, one is trying to read the color and the other is actually reading the word.

You may think this is just an optical illusion and that it has no real application whatsoever. Well, think again.
Our brains are wired to perceive several colors with an inherit significance such as red for danger or stop, green for “ok” or go, and yellow for caution. It’s everywhere.

This must be taken in consideration when you are designing for usability and here is an example of how not to do it:

In the Roku website, they make your brain hesitate over which option is better for you. Obviously for them the best option is if you buy the device with cables, more business for them right? But if you see a red button and a red button together, what does your brain think or read? It is the same as the exercise above: conflict. Which button do you think is your brain most likely to click on?

The bottom line is, when you are designing for usability and conversion is all you care about, be sure you don’t confuse your customer,don’t make them think.

Have you seen this somewhere else? Post it in the comments area.

F.