‘Every time you shift to a different colour or hue you are creating interest. It’s a subtle thing, but it builds content.’ Clyde Aspevig, artist.

Today’s audiences are so busy, and so overwhelmed with internet fodder, that they quite simply judge content by its cover.

A study by Skyword found that content with relevant images gained 94% more views than content without. Now, that’s the kind of BOGOF offer digital marketers go mad for. With the monumental success of content platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, content marketers are all too aware of how critical visuals are in today’s strategies. It’s predicted that by 2018, 84% of communications will be visual, covering everything from imagery, video, infographics and more.

In part one of our new design takeover duo, we explore how design and content go hand in hand. First up: how colour, or a lack thereof, impacts text.

1. Consider the connotations

Using colour is a good way to enhance a point, catch the eye or even drive a sale. In short, colour connotations can influence your audience before they’ve even read a word. As the most subconscious part of our brain, colour is a hugely powerful tool for content creation.

The colour red causes our hearts to beat faster, and can even instigate the ‘fight or flight’ instinct – this is why shops always use red to signify a sale.

 

Blue is an almost universally welcome colour to both men and women – it’s 57% of men’s and 35% of women’s favourite colour. In the UK, the colour blue is culturally aligned with honesty, clarity and trust. Brands who use blue as their main colour, such as Barclays, Facebook, Ford, and Samsung, all operate in industries where customer trust is imperative.

 

Orange and brown are respectively 22% and 27% of men’s, and 33% and 20% of women’s least favourite colours. But yet, brands such as easyJet, Amazon, UPS and Timberland thrive using these hues across their website. So remember, one rule doesn’t fit all.

 

The thing to remember is people react to colours differently, and the context of the piece or brand is absolutely crucial.

Reece Starr, addfolio’s Head of Creative explains: ‘Colour is what we react to faster than anything else on the page, more so than a shape or a block of text.

A basic analogy is to place two light bulbs at either end of a room, but switching only one on. Our natural instinct is to react to the lit bulb, because it’s standing out more than anything else in the room.

This same approach can be applied to a page, by simply deciding where to place the light bulbs.’

 

2. Ensure a harmonious palette

The colours of the rainbow and complimentary colours are some of the first things we learn as children, so it’s little surprise that the need for harmonious colours continues into our adult lives.

If you use more than one colour, choose a palette and stick to it. Contrasting colours on one page can confuse readers and cause disharmony within the content.

Choosing your colour scheme comes down to what you want your content, and ultimately your brand, to say. Are you going for expert, sincerity, or excitement? First decide on this, then tailor your colour scheme to these emotions, and implement it throughout your content.

If you’re struggling to find a colour palette, try the Pictaculous free tool, which generates a colour palette that suits your image by using the base colours within that image.

Reece’s view:

‘A successful colour palette can be judged on how well it informs a user, colours can be applied to different actions to help the user to navigate more freely.

Creating a colour hierarchy allows you to connect colours with directions – you’re training users into subconsciously understanding what different colours do, and thus influencing their decisions.’

 

3. Consider your white space

The white space on a page is a powerful element that can all too easily be ignored or abused. From the space around the text, between headers and even between lines of text, white space is imperative to a successful piece of content.

White space provides better legibility. Room to breathe between and around the words makes the text easier to read, leading to higher comprehension. Cue dramatic white space pause…..

White space also comes with its own tones and connotations. Tightly crammed in text with little white space gives an impression of cheapness, and a desperation to squeeze too much into a small space. The less is more approach can make a page feel elegant, open and relaxed, with a mature understanding of what is crucial, and what can be left unsaid.

Using content to signpost

Content needs recognisable roles to be digested effectively. Dividing a piece into headers, sub-headers and paragraphs provides pointers or ‘signposts’ to guide the reader.

Reece’s view:

‘Clean, minimalistic, well thought out content needs space: space to breathe; space to digest; and if you’re Apple, space to show off the latest tech goodies. Getting the most from your white space is no easy task though – too much and the page seems bare, or even dull, but not enough leads to pockets of clutter, creating an albeit organised mess.’

However, all that said, content specialists, designers, and UX specialists alike must remember that colour is subjective. There is no way of ticking everyone’s box. The best idea is to trial and error:

  • using colours that suit your purpose and your brand,
  • initiating a colour palette and adhering to it sitewide, and
  • making your life (not to mention the reader’s life) easier by utilising the white space available to you.

Next time, we’ll be foraging into the world of content structure in the second of our design takeover duo. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your views or examples of innovative colour use in content in the comments section below.

Sources:
www.skyword.com
www.loyelstudios.com/2016/02/08/visual-content-dominates-digital-marketing-trends
www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours
www.shopify.com/blog/14254569-why-all-sale-signs-are-red-the-science-of-color-in-retail
blog.kissmetrics.com/gender-and-color
www.pictaculous.com