Online Activities and Color

In the survey, questions regarding the importance of a variety of online activities (e.g. shopping & communicating, to name a few) were asked, and this part of project will focus on possible color combinations to help designers make better color choices for using, or not using, specific colors. To begin, let’s take a look at the reasons people use the Internet. The graph below presents the survey data for the questions regarding the importance of online activities. The scores in this graph are averages of all the results with no filters applied to age groups or gender.

Figure 7.0
- Importance of Online Activities

As you can see, shopping, communicating, research, news, weather, and downloading music are the highest in the ranking. To tie in the discoveries listed in the preceding pages, I’m going to suggest two scenarios where an organization needs a new color scheme for their web site. The first site is an online store that caters to people who purchase children’s toys and gifts. This e-commerce store only makes a small profit on each transaction, so they need to move a lot of product to maintain financial buoyancy. The second site is designed for women with breast cancer. The site is owned by a non-profit company and is made available for anyone who wants to learn more about the disease, donate money to the cause, and/or communicate with others who have suffered, or are currently suffering, from the ailment. Although both organizations use the Internet to communicate to their publics, their goals are completely different.

The Toy Store

As we learned in the associations section of this report, people associate several colors to the word fun. Most of which are the primary and secondary colors red, blue, yellow, green, purple, and orange. Cailin Boyle, who is mentioned in the education section of this site, states in her book Color Harmony for the Web that the use of bright and highly saturated colors can help make a corporate identity fun, accessible, and exciting (Color Harmony 130). Part of doing this would be to use colors that are bright and full of energy. Colors like red, orange and yellow all give off a high level of energy and would bring an exciting atmosphere to the project.

Alongside the need to produce a site that’s friendly, the online store needs to have a color combination that promotes a quick transaction. Red is shown as the major color choice when associated with speed on the color associations section of this site. Also, as stated in the psychology section, the color red is known to affect the mental processes of a human. Although I don’t know if this is the absolute truth, one could say from reading Birren that the use of red would help take some of the contemplation out of the decision. Getting people to find something and quickly make a purchase is the goal of this store. Boyle, in describing Neiman Marcus’s web site design stated that they used bright color palettes that create excitement about the new products…and their medium created a sense of ongoing newness critical for a successful e-commerce site (Color Harmony 44). Yellow is another color that can be relied on in this situation. Although children tend to like the color yellow more than adults do, the use of yellow is necessary to maintain a child-like theme. Although we may not be conscious of the popularity of this color and its dependence on age, we all know that children tend to enjoy bright and highly active colors.

Breast Cancer Awareness

The majority of people who have, or had, breast cancer are female and tend to be older than 30 years of age. These two criteria are fundamental when choosing a safe color scheme for a topic of great importance. Luckily, this survey consisted of 62% female participants. By looking at the favorite colors by age group, the courage / bravery pie chart, the fear / terror pie chart, and the fun pie chart we can get a good idea of what colors to use. To begin, the bar graph for favorite color by age group and the favorite color for female pie chart are listed below.

Figure 6.4 - Favorite Color by Age Group

Figure 6.2 - Female Favorite Color

As you can see, the colors older females tend to favor are blue, purple and green. From the studies Birren performed, and written about in the associations section, the preference section, and the psychology section, blue is known for being a favored color, but is also associated with depression, gloom, and fearfulness (Color Psychology and Color Therapy, 143). Blue also tends to be a cold and unenergetic color. For these reasons alone, the heavy use of blue may be a poor choice. Green represents life, nature and restfulness, but also can be associated with guilt and disease according to Birren. Purple is often associated with dignity and courage, a combination of words that may give hope to those with cancer. Below is the graph depicting the survey results for courage and bravery.

Figure 4.9 - Association with Courage / Bravery

As you can see red, purple, and blue all play a role in the representation of courage and bravery. Aside from courage and bravery, Red, according to the survey participants, is closely associated with speed, fun, and fear / terror. See below for the pie chart representing the votes for fear and terror.

Figure 5.0 - Association with Fear / Terror

Red might be a color to avoid for a project like this. The last thing we need is the users of a breast cancer awareness site feeling a sense of fear or terror. This leaves Purple as the best single choice for a color. Different hues of purple include pink and magenta and are currently included in many medical color schemes today (http://www.komen.org/bci/ for example).