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A good web designer will consider color choices at the very beginning of the design process. To choose color, the designer must know the intended audience. If the audience is children from the same culture as the designer (let’s say American children) the choices will be different than one for say, Asian businessmen at a large corporation in an Asian country. Or even for those same users, but in America.

Understanding who the information is for, : local, global, elderly, adult, child, men, women or some combination of all of them will help in choosing the best color(s) for a website. Be mindful to the symbolism color can have. Have you ever had a parent upset because someone put a blue hat on a little girl or gave a pink stuffed toy to a boy?

Sometimes we are limited by choices beyond our control as designers. As I mentioned in another post, the school colors are being used and there is nothing the designer can do about it. When a company has a “signature” and that happens to be tied to color there is little that can be done except to try and accentuate the positive and perhaps draw away from the negative. For example, maybe a small splash or red, or red in the logo only instead of as for the background color.

Color is a very powerful thing to most people. We would never dream of painting a hospital waiting room fire engine red…because it would make us think of fire engines, for one…second red has the power to excite and also to make people anxious- at least in America that last thing we want in a hospital is more anxiety … But in other cultures red is a symbol of fertility and newness, celebration and in still others is symbolizes death and blood or even evil (devil).

As designers the last thing we want is to convey the wrong message or offend not get our meaning across because of something so seemingly simple as a color choice. We must set aside our own personal emotions with color and do the research. I know people who are happy as can be with blood red walls in the dining room…even though I think I might get indigestion. And my mom always told me never to paint a room yellow, because “you will be sick of it in a week”.

The bottom line is to know your audience, ask users what they think…but do not get too hung up on individual answers. As Steven Krug puts it, do not be too excited about the tester complimenting the choice of orange…the next person may say they hate it!

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