The power of color usage online
Esther Meijers is a UX designer. She has been working at Positive for 7 years now, dealing with everything related to websites and apps. And how people behave. She doesn't think about design but how it functions.
How do you find out what color works well on a particular button on a web page?
Well what I usually do is I at least ask the client if they have personas or target groups. Then I do research on that.
So, let's suppose we focus on couples in love, then I'll do research, either with the personas, or with the target groups provided. Or I do desk research on what a colour means. For example, red can be hate, but it can also be love. I wouldn't use red for a button because that is also quickly perceived as negative, and is often seen as an error message.
Suppose the users are in love. Pink represents love, which is how I try to substantiate it. And that's different with every target audience. In the agricultural sector, green would make more sense. Sometimes those are also assumptions, but I have to be able to substantiate my assumption. So then I research if what I'm saying is correct or not.
How do you measure at what particular point there are a lot of clicks on a web page, because I do see is those pictures with some kind of heat sections?
Yes, a heatmap or Google Analytics. So, it depends. Sometimes we make a customer journey and then we want certain users to land on certain pages. Then we place in trackers and monitor if that works. You can use a tracker on a button, but also on a whole page. And then you really see the entire heat map of that page. And that is quite interesting because you often observe that at the top, the header, really gives the most impression. And the further down on the page you go, you see that they have navigated over it with their mouse, but they haven't clicked on it.
And how do you arrive at a solution when a button is clicked less than intended?
Then I start looking, what could be the rason for this. Could it be the font size, could it be the color, could it just be the topic, should the button be further up on the page, or more down. I don't have a single answer to that, but then we will test that. And try again and test again.
What is the process of choosing colors on a website? Do you always have a brand style or do you work around it?
With big clients you always have a brandstyle. But I always do an analysis first, whether it's appropriate for digital use. Often brand styles are built for offline media, prints for example. But that tends not to work digitally at all. Especially what you see is that they use very nice pattern colors, for example, or soft colors, but a button should stand outfrom the rest a bit. So that's what we always look at first. Then, of course, besides the colors; you have the shapes.
As I just said, for the agricultural sector, a rounder shape would make more sense for a button because that's a natural shape. Whereas maybe for an IT company with all the pixels, a square shape would be more appropriate. Well that's actually how I look at the color as well. That's actually based on psychology and user behavior.
What kind of clients does Positive have where this form of UX is widely used?
Well that's kind of diverse. Bigger jobs are automotive companies, Shell. We are now then working for a publisher, Noordhoff. Those are online learning programs for healthcare professionals. But most often from healthcare, to parking app, to paint brands.
And that's exactly what I like about it. Because sometimes you spend quite a few months on a single project. And then I'm ready for a new challenge. And then a totally different type of client comes along, and I think, great, I'm going to immerse myself all over again.
And how long do you spend doing research in advance?
We usually spend a couple of weeks. Strategies and UX, and sometimes they run into each other. Furthermore, I deal with wireframe and check if design's match in this. Then it goes to development. I am in contact with all stakeholders throughout the project.
Is there a project that you yourself are very proud of, that perhaps did better than you, or the client, expected?
We did the website for Rotterdam The Hague Airport. Because of that, we also got a lot of new clients. And that was just a really cool project because you have to think about how people are going to move around the website. So people who are already at the airport, people who want to check things out beforehand, people who work there. So, you have a lot of diverse types of people that you have to consider, and they all have different behavior and journey.
Is that very difficult to work with?
I don't really see it as difficult but I see it more as a challenge. I really like to think about what happens when I'm at the airport with my phone, or log on to my laptop in advance to see if my flight still leaves or not. And thinking about that makes me very happy. The more complicated, the better.
How did you find out that you find this kind of thing interesting?
It really just grew on me. I trained as a window dresser for stores. Everything is rapidly shifting online so I had to do something different. I actually still see myself as a window dresser but online. I still think about how someone looks at that window display, and thinks oh that's what I want so I'll go into that store. Just in a different way - online.
Because you did window dresser as a study, after that, did you specialize in a sector?
Yes I did Communications and Multimedia Design after that. And my major was in Applied Psychology. And there I graduated as an engineer. In between I also did training where I learned a lot about visual design and concepts. And that helps me a lot now, to also think about how people behave, but is it also applicable in design. And then finding the balance in that.
You just said you've been with Positive for 7 years, have you always had this position or have you grown to what you are now?
Well I just started as a Junior and stayed after my internship. And then grew into UX Designer.
And what do you like most about this position?
Diversity. Because of course I'm working on a project. But I sometimes have 5 projects at the same time. And that's also why I wouldn't want to go to the client side so quickly because I'm afraid I will get bored very quickly. And the great team of course. But yes, the diversity above all actually.