Emotional Impact of Colour Combinations in Web Design

1st Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Joachim P. Hasebrook (ISNM)

2nd Supervisor: Hans von Sichart (ISNM)

Why are some web sites more attractive and engaging than others - eliciting sympathy or even enthusiasm, beyond pure usability? How does this work? Is it the content, the use of different media, the composition of shapes, or is it the way colours are used? Purpose of this study was to examine the impact of colour combinations in web design on the emotional response of web site users. It investigated as well whether this emotional response had any effect on recall performance as a cognitive process. The present report first summarizes some background information about colour, emotion, and cognition and reviews existing literature which links these three dimensions. For empirical investigations, twelve different web designs were created, systematically varying in main colour (blue, red, and yellow), colour scheme (complementary and monochromatic), and extension of colour (extensive and spare). An online survey was conducted among 58 international Internet users. The emotional responses towards the twelve different web site designs were measured via Self Assessment Manikins (SAM), a non-verbal self-report instrument. After this, the recall performance of subjects as a function of emotional response was measured through a fill-in-the-gap text. Results indicate that main colour, colour scheme, as well as extension of colour had significant influence on emotional user responses like valence, arousal, and dominance, but not on recall performance. In addition there were significant differences in emotional response and recall performance for females and males observed. Taken together, colour seems to be a powerful force to induce certain emotional responses of web site users. The present report concludes by proposing future research in the field of emotional web design and discusses practical implications on business and design.