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The Psychology of Colour in UI/UX Design: How to Use Colour to Create Emotion and Increase Engagement

Understanding the Impact of Colour in UI/UX Design: Leveraging Emotion and Engagement through Strategic Colour Use
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Picture of Joel Koh

Joel Koh

Digital Lead

Mon, 22 May 2023

Colour has the greatest ability of all design components for user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) to evoke emotions, communicate value, and impact user behaviour. Colour is a non-verbal language that, from a psychological point of view, has the ability to stir up powerful associations and influence mood, feelings, and behaviour. Designers who want to create engaging and significant experiences for their users must understand how colour functions within the framework of UI/UX design. We'll look at the psychology of colour in UI/UX design in this post and discover how colour is used to boost engagement and leave an impression of users.

Colour Theory: A Brief Overview

Before we delve into the psychology of colour, it is indeed crucial to comprehend the fundamentals of colour theory before delving into the psychology of colour. The framework of colour theory explains how colours interact with one another and how they mix to create new colours. Red, blue, and yellow are the three primary colours, and other colours cannot be combined to make them. Two primary colours can then be combined to make a secondary colour, and two primary colours can be combined to make a tertiary colour.

Colours can be characterised by hue, saturation, and brightness. The actual colour, for example red, blue, or green, is referred to as hue. The term "saturation" measures the colour’s intensity, which can range from brilliant and vibrant to drab and subdued. Brightness refers to how light or dark the colour is, with white being the lightest colour, and black being the darkest.

The Psychology of Colour in UI/UX Design

With the basic understanding of colour theory, let's explore the psychology of colour in UI/UX design. Each colour has a unique set of associations and can cause users to experience various feelings. Here are some typical connections between various colours:

  • Red: Passion, love, anger, danger, urgency
  • Orange: Creativity, warmth, enthusiasm, energy
  • Yellow: Optimism, happiness, caution, warning
  • Green: Growth, nature, harmony, calmness
  • Blue: Trust, security, serenity, intelligence
  • Purple: Luxury, creativity, spirituality, mystery
  • Pink: Femininity, playfulness, love, compassion
  • Brown: Earthiness, warmth, stability, reliability
  • Black: Elegance, sophistication, power, mystery
  • White: Purity, simplicity, cleanliness, innocence

Such associations could serve as a starting point for designers who want to utilise colour to evoke a particular feeling or meaning even if they are not universal and can change depending on cultural and individual circumstances.

Using Colour in UI/UX Design

Let’s dive into how we can use colours effectively in UI/UX design. Here are a few insights to enhance your designs:

  1. Consider the context and objective of your design. The same colour that works well for a fun and amusing app may not be appropriate for a serious, professional website. Colours should be chosen with consideration for your design's objectives and target market.
  2. Create contrast and hierarchy with colours. By using different colours for headings, subheadings, body text, and other elements, you may subconsciously establish a visual hierarchy and direct the user's attention to the most crucial information.
  3. Use colour to boost branding. Consider employing the brand colours of the company or brand whose design you are creating if you want to maintain a unified aesthetic in all of their documents.
  4. Make emotional connections. Use colours that are representative of the mood or emotion you want to evoke. For instance, using warm colours like orange and yellow can create a sense of enthusiasm, while cool colours like blue and green can create a sense of peace.
  5. Use colour sparingly. Using too many colours or using them without careful thought can lead to a confusing and overwhelming design. Choose a small range of colours and employ them consistently throughout your design.

Examples of Colour in UI/UX Design

Colours have been utilised many times in UI/UX design. Some prominent examples include:

  1. Dropbox: The colour scheme of Dropbox's website comprises of blue and white colour palette creating a sense of confidence and reliability, while the usage of green in their illustrations and icons conveys growth and innovation.
  2. Duolingo: To provide a lively and exciting atmosphere, the language learning app uses a bright and cheerful colour scheme to create a sense of fun and excitement. The use of distinct colours for various languages makes it easy for users to recognise which language they are learning.
  3. Headspace: Headspace's meditation app uses a relaxing blue and green colour palette to evoke a sense of relaxation and mindfulness. Important elements like buttons and calls-to-action are highlighted with vivid, contrasting colours to assist direct the user's attention.


Colour is a potent tool in UI/UX design that may arouse feelings which will possibly influence user behaviour. Designers are able to give their users compelling and meaningful experiences by successfully utilising colour psychology. Yet, it's crucial to use colour purposefully and consciously, keeping in mind the context and goals of the design to make sure the desired effect is realised.

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