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Al's Column: Optimizing color in your website design

April 24/May 1, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 23

By Phil Kenyon


Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMYou’ve probably spent months with your creative agency figuring out how to make your website more appealing to your customer base. No doubt you have researched how to make your site easy to navigate, and you’re gauging traffic and gathering as much useful information as you can to figure out how to convert interest into actual sales. However, it’s likely you’re missing one of the most important drivers in reaching out to potential customers— choosing the right color.

How you arrange and display your products into groups today is likely a result of how your website is designed. It often has nothing to do with what the customer needs, or how she expects the products to be organized within color families. Some of the most important decisions your customer has to make are often presented to her in some random or perfunctory order.

In our three-dimensional world, the shopping experience is different. A customer enters a store or showroom and is literally surrounded by color. They have reds in front of them, purples to the left, yellows to the right, grays above and whites below. The customer is enveloped by color and is led through the selection process by the intelligent organization of the products within the showroom.

Your website, however, is a two-dimensional experience. It’s also the new shop window to the world. Can you imagine your favorite department store just throwing a random pile of goods in the window? And yet, that is exactly what many companies do every single day on the most highly trafficked and powerful tool connecting them with professional and retail consumers.

When you try to translate three-dimensional color selections (i.e., your products) onto a two-dimensional plane (your website) to replicate the showroom experience, you are faced with challenges that you probably never had to deal with previously.

In selecting various colors for their websites, most business owners begin with a “color wheel.” (Google it and you will find countless diagrams.) While this is a simple aid to convey the basic concept of primary and tertiary color, it is not very helpful when you are trying to narrow down the selection process. In truth, not much useful information is readily available to help with color selection; you either have that gift or you don’t.

The color and aesthetic of the products retailers sell is paramount. There are rules and methods that should be followed when organizing and displaying each product range. Color selection is not just subjective; it’s science. It requires benchmarking and analysis tools for optimization as well as statistical data to remove every possible element of chance, providing the best and most informed experience for your customers.

When seeking vendors to help you with website development, be sure to choose a company that can provide photorealistic rendering of the various products you carry. These images should allow customers to virtually “try on” any product. More importantly, make sure the vendor you choose can provide insight into the right type of color and balance related to the online presentation of your products.


Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 10.16.55 AMPhil Kenyon is vice president, color solutions, at Chameleon Power, which specializes in visualization software for the home improvement industry. Since the early ’90s, he has worked with numerous multinational companies on their online marketing initiatives.