You’ve likely heard before that there is a psychology to colors, and you may even know that most people like blue and respond to different colors in different ways. In fact, the combination of colors on your site can have an impact on everything from how much a visitor likes your site to how high your conversion rate is. Color contrast is an integral part of graphic design, helps to direct people’s gaze when they visit your site and plays a prominent role in creating conversions.
It’s especially powerful when combined with different color choices and elements such as font and images. These aspects can also impact contrast.
Imagine a page that only has black and white. Black and white contrast sharply, but a page without another single color might be pretty boring, and the reader might not be inclined to stick around.
What Exactly Is Color Contrast?
Contrast is just a way to describe the way two colors differ from one another. There are different levels of contrast, of course. There isn’t much of a distinction between dark green and a medium shade of green, but a very deep, dark green and a very pale, mint green will have a sharper contrast. The deeper the hue, the lighter the contrasting color should be and vice versa. With this model, you can virtually use any color combinations you’d like, but if you want a stronger contrast, the hues will likely differ.
The biggest color contrast possible is black and white. On the color wheel, the farther a color is from another color the more contrast there is. Yellow and blue, for example, have high contrast. However, contrast is much more than just color selection. The shade of the color, the size of the other elements on the page, how heavy the font used is and so many other things can impact overall contrast on a page. When colors contrast, it can help with conversions in a number of ways.
1. Making Calls to Action Stand Out
Using a call to action (CTA) can entice readers to sign up for a newsletter, buy a product or start a free trial. Anytime you increase how often people take the actions you want them to do, you have increased your chance of converting them into customers.
You can find an excellent example of contrast in the CTA on Netflix’s website, where they use both contrast in the text and variation in the color of the CTA button to draw the visitor’s attention. Other than some of the images, the page is black and white. So, the red CTA button that says “Join Free for a Month” in white text really grabs the reader’s attention.
2. Drawing Attention to Text
If your goal is to entice visitors to click on certain text, then using a simple black and white or very light background with very dark text is a good rule of thumb to follow. This keeps the visitor from getting distracted and helps direct their focus. Use too many colors and the visitor may not know where to click.
One example of a site that does this quite well is Mizzen+Main, which has black text on a white background. This makes the categories stand out and entices the user to click on one of them and go shopping.
3. Set Off a Section
Another way you can use color contrast in web design is by setting off a block of text that you want the reader to pay attention to. You can do this with high contrast and a section of pure color, or you can use less contrast, such as a light color on white. The slight variation will still draw the user’s eye.
One example of using contrast to set off a block of color comes from WordStream, which uses a light blue strip on a white background to draw attention to the free report they have to offer. Highlighting the free report like this makes visitors more likely to download it.
4. Reaching Those with Impairments
About 4% of people have low vision or another type of visual impairment, such as colorblindness. By having contrast between colors on your page, you allow someone with vision issues to see your text more clearly. For example, if a person can’t see blue and you have very little contrast between a light blue background and medium blue text, it can be difficult for those with colorblindness to read the text.
On the other hand, if you use a very dark navy blue on a very light pale blue background, the user will have an easier time reading the text. This is much easier to read. Amazon provides an excellent example of this.
5. Highlighting What You Do
If you want to use your landing page to let visitors know what you do and get your brand tagline in their brain, using color contrast is one way to make that text stand out from the rest of your page.
You can see an example of this type of design on Fiber Sensing’s website. The brand’s homepage uses a vivid blue background, and the tagline is in large, bold text that really stands out from the rest of the page and draws the eye. In this example, the contrast comes into play not only because of white text on a deep blue background but also because of the size and weight of the actual text.
Using color contrast can drive conversions and help you turn visitors into customers. Pay attention to everything from the colors you use to where you place them to how bold the font you use is. All of these elements combine to grab your visitors’ attention and drive conversions.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.