How to Use Color in Calls-to-Action on Your Website - dummies

How to Use Color in Calls-to-Action on Your Website

By Leslie Poston

In social media marketing, calls-to-action often appear in the form of buttons or icons. Color is important because studies show that color can motivate people to do or feel different things. You can apply this information to your social media marketing and measurement efforts.


Here’s a quick color reference guide:

  • Blue creates a feeling of safety, security, and calm and is often used when the goal is to get people to trust you. (It’s no accident that one of the Internet world’s biggest privacy violators, Facebook, is blue.)

  • Green creates a feeling of confidence, wealth, and, in certain shades, calm and is often used when you want people to shell out cold, hard cash. Sometimes the calming effect can backfire. (For example, hospitals are often green, but rarely calming.)

  • Red creates a feeling of power, a sense of vibrancy, energy, and vigor and is often used when you want to show that you’re an authority in a subject matter area. Caution: Overuse of red can trigger agitation and anger (and can also be hard to read).

  • Yellow creates a sunny sense of optimism and cheer and is often used to imply that a company or product is fun and energetic. Like red, overuse of yellow can agitate people and push them away. Use sparingly.

  • Pinks and purples create a soft sense of romance or indicate a dreamy, comforting feel. They’re often (over)used if the target customer is a female in the age 18 to 24 bracket. The color pink has been somewhat co-opted by cancer causes, as well.

  • Orange creates a feeling of youth and a general sense of action. A popular color in social media, orange is often used to indicate that a company is fresh and hip and that the customer should act quickly to book its services. Like yellow and red, orange can be hard to read if overused in design.

  • Black creates a sense of wealth or aggression. Often used to entice people to spend money on more expensive items or to demonstrate power, black can be off-putting to some people or, if done poorly, make a site look outdated.

So out of all of those colors, which ones are the best colors for your calls-to-action?

If you look at Google+, Facebook, and other sites with notification indicators when you have new messages and so on, you’ll notice that the predominant color for these chiclet indicators is red. You’ll probably notice that you feel compelled to click, as well. If you guessed red as a great choice for a call-to-action button, you’d be right.

Something to consider, though, is the sense of immediate reward you get from clicking the Google+, Gmail, Facebook Message, or Direct Message indicator chiclets. If your call-to-action isn’t going to give that same immediate feeling of instant gratification, then you may want to choose a different color.

If you can’t — or don’t want to — default to red, you’ll want to choose a color that is contrasting to your site theme. If you’ve worked with a color wheel, you remember that contrasting colors are the ones directly across from each other on the wheel. So, on a predominantly blue site, an orange button would stand out.