What’s the most popular colour & why over 50 million Americans care


Let it be said this blog does not shy away from tackling the most important issues of the day. KISSmetrics, who produce great infographics in their free time combining multiple data sources,  have just posted up their latest effort, ‘How Colors Effect Conversions’  It turns out we are a visual species in how we evaluate kitchen appliances and remember print ads. These guys are doing it rite:

The 90

The 90′s are an underrated fashion decade.

Real talk: Apparently colour plays a pivotal role in guiding purchasing decisions with ~90% of respondents  saying its the most influential attribute of a product or service they are interested in owning.  Some marketers have found success in altering the color of their call to action button, or in the case of Heinz, introducing green ketchup.

Irish catsup

Lucrative green washing


Web accessibility should be an important topic for marketers, one study indicates close to 1% of the worlds population is visually impaired. According to Prevent Blindness America, 53.2 million Americans aged 45 or older have some form of visual impairment, from mild to severe, and about 18% of those affected are “legally blind.” Despite their visual impairments, many of those people use the Internet every day. There are a number of best practices for optimizing your website for accessibility, a nice summary of which can be found here. With 8% of all men and 0.5% of all women genetically colourblind, the numbers all add up to a significant minority that impact a web properties patronage. The visually impaired also use social media like the rest of us, so doing things rite has pass along value. Here’s the result of a search on Twitter for ‘site accessibility, as you will see there is a healthy community sharing links and information about optimized UX experiences.

Less is more

Less is more


When it comes to the use of colour in effective web design, blue is always best as its most easily distinguished by sufferers of colour-vision deficiency,  particularly when combined in sharp contrast with a white background. Hyperlinks were made blue by Tim Berners Lee at the outset of the World Wide Web in 1990 to supposedly distinguish this content from the grey page background with black text style he commonly employed.  Ever since this has been the de-facto standard along with purple representing a previously double clicked hyperlink.  Google has probably helped iconify (its a real internet word, I checked)  the blue link through its ubiquitous use of them, while also following the colour code of conduct.

Yahoo.com, yesterday

Yahoo.com, yesterday

So what what are the most popular gender specific hues? Initially I asked Dr Google who suggested I consult Yahoo Answers, the webs most reliable  encyclopedia of user generated knowledge. Lo and behold we have a few real answers of genius:

‘Xanadu’ says pastels are weaker colours and thinks boys are scared of pink clothing for its association with homosexuality- this is likely someone living in America, where pink is seen as a gay colour.

‘Judge and Jury’  Thinks red is a female colour since lipstick is red, which is popular with women. Moving on…

‘ktrb’  Believes  the Victorians considered pink a more masculine color for boys since it was a toned-down version of red.  But would Mr Carson agree?

That One Girl’ thinks Purple is a feminine colour since “the other day I bought two toothbrushes, a green one and a purple one. I asked my husband which one he wanted and he said the green one”  Case closed!

Ultimately the collective wisdom of our helpful contributors is that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. So, how on the money are they?

Blue FTW

Blues Clues


Well, no sign of the pink ladies but purple puts in a good showing while blue dominates both genders with red and green sneaking onto the podium.  This is the study that KISSmetrics  sourced for its graph and its quite comprehensive if limited in sample size. In addition to likes we also get dislikes for each gender, with brown and orange as popular as a plate of cookies with no glass of milk:

Choc orange not popular

Choc orange not popular

Of course these findings should not be a deterrent for marketers, and in a couple of cases are the centerpiece of  a respective brand:

Of course when you put brown and orange together, bad things can happen; like the mistake by the lake:

Doomed from the beginning

Doomed from the beginning?

Finally I wanted to share another finding from  the survey for what its worth, in this case a breakout of which hues invoke the most forboding amongst us.  With red almost universally associated with danger (it also represents good fortune in China) and black with evildoers (I’m looking at you, Darth Vader) both top the charts for fear and loathing en masse:

Hidden meaning in the roulette wheel perhaps?

Hidden meaning on the roulette wheel perhaps?

Red and black, now where have those two been seen together in large numbers wreaking havoc and more than earning their street rep for proceed with caution? I cant think of too many sports franchise sporting a red & black jersey other than the New Jersey Devils in the NHL (ice hockey), the Essendon Bombers in the AFL (Australian Football League) and AC Milan in Serie A (Italian soccer). But there is a force much greater than athletes chasing around a small object for entertainment, a dark and deeply flawed political theology that has caused misery the world over for billions of people. Yes, its the workers party, those chaps that want equality plus ca change.


Finishing up,  sincere apologies for the old school style pagination effort today, my text editor is on the blink. Excuses aside, the outtakes are pretty obvious for us- keep it simple, stick to a light background with dark text, consider the needs of the millions of web users who don’t have 20:20 vision and  avoid orange and brown if you want to make a good first impression. Web accessibility is a largely hidden challenge, both from a social responsibility standpoint and a good business standpoint. I have spent 15 years fussing about web metrics and media efficiency for a living, never once stopping to research this issue properly. From now on it will stay, writ large in blue on white, as a not forgotten ingredient in best in class web development and marketing strategy. Please consider doing likewise.

I’m Learning All My Colors

I’m learning all my colors,
I’m really very smart.
I put the colors in my head,
I know them all by heart.

I’m spelling all my numbers,
It’s easy as can be.
And if I spell them all for you…
Then you’ll be smart like me!






You can be the first one to leave a comment.


Leave a Comment