Color Theory and Conversion Buttons: What’s the Connection?

You’ve probably heard fellow marketers and designers talk about color theory. It’s a complex topic that can leave you feeling overwhelmed if you let it. And while most color theory concepts are better left to artists and psychologists, there is one area where it has significance in web design and ecommerce.

How Color Impacts Conversions

The psychology of color is a foreign concept to most marketers, but it’s worthy of more discussion. Color clearly has an influence over the way people think and feel, but could it also be a major catalyst in how decisions are made? To an extent, yes.

It’s important to note that research in the area of color psychology and theory is somewhat subjective. As marketing strategist Gregory Ciotti points out, a lot of today’s beliefs are built on hunches and anecdotal evidence. But why is there such a lack of concrete data?

“As research shows, it’s likely because elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us,” Ciotti explains. “So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.”

With that being said, color clearly influences decision making – we just don’t always know the effects. Thankfully, more and more research is being done in this area and we’re closer to having some concrete answers.

Many believe that red is the highest converting color – at least in terms of on-page conversion buttons. You’ll see red commonly used on product pages – such as this one from Fabness – and there’s research to support this decision.

In one case study, researchers tested 600 subjects and found that conversions increased by 34 percent when red was used over green. There’s also this case study from HubSpot where another group of researchers ran a similar test and got a 21 percent lift in conversions when red was used.

But the problem with looking at studies like these in isolation is that you can quickly zero in on a single strategy and become blind to other opportunities. Take this case study as an example. It shows that green increases conversions by 86 percent when used over orange. But then if you compare orange to other colors, the study’s lead researcher admits that orange actually performs fairly well across the board.

Pay Attention to Your Conversion Buttons

Here’s the major takeaway: Color psychology is real and people are influenced by different shades and tones, but it’s virtually impossible to identify a single color that performs best in all instances.

“The color of the button has little to no effect on it’s own,” marketer Ott Niggulis strongly believes. “What is more important is how it changes the visual hierarchy of the whole page, how it makes the call-to-action stand out. Plus additional information and wording of the button itself.”

In other words, it’s incorrect to say something like, “Red is the highest converting color for conversion buttons.” Instead, it would be accurate to say something like, “Red has been shown to lift conversions when used in XYZ situation.”

“There is no best color for web pages that makes them convert better. I’ll say that again: there is NO best color for conversions,” Niggulis reiterates.

Pay attention to the colors you choose. Run tests, collect data, and analyze trends. Numbers won’t lie. But be wary of using someone else’s case study to dictate your own direction. History has shown that color psychology is often case-specific when it comes to marketing.