Color Me Right

Recently, I had the pleasure of working on some new design ideas for a company selling Harley Davidson motorcycles.  They liked several black based designs and logos that looked fairly frightening.  I can see why they like them given the psychographic of the traditional Harley rider.  As for a color scheme, we can go anywhere with that one.  I know traditional Harley riders like the black stuff, but that is typically not a friendly design base.  I like to stick to a light background with some distinctive offset content.

OK, deep breath…

We looked at several designs.  I get why these appeal to the typical Harley rider.  They have a Harley friendly look to them and have dark backdrops.  But, it’s all very sinister.  The content is usually good, however, with the scrolling photos and slideshows.  I think that is a good way to go.  I’d like to get away from the darkness though and take a look at some other professions and their sites.

In creating a website, you need to state what you are selling clearly.  And, we need a friendlier atmosphere to do it in.  Get away from the typical ideas such as the “grease monkey” look that is typically associated with auto mechanics and the professionals involved with motorcycles.  The structure of these sites is good, so implementing something along those lines is good, but we want to choose our colors carefully.  Take a look at the following and think hard about why these are more pleasant to peruse:

I think you get the picture with these.  I don’t think any of these lend themselves to what we are doing, necessarily, with our motorcycle client.  However, it makes the point.  We need to be friendly with our coloring and our color scheme.  We are selling a service and need people to feel comfortable with the service.  Without any research into our Demographic OR (more importantly) our Psychographic (read more on my recent blog at, the client for this product likely a “New Age Retiree” between 40 and 65 with Expendable or Disposable Income.  A “New Age Retiree” is someone who, psychographically, has the mindset of being comfortably set financially with a need to put a little “rebel” in their lives without angering their spouses.  That being said, they want to portray the “Cool, Motorbike Riding, Harley Hugging Loverboy” but don’t want to get their brand new “chaps with the rearend cut out” dirty.  They are FAR more likely to choose a friendly comfortable trustworthy group to work with than not.  They are FAR more likely to distrust a bunch of “grease monkey” mechanics.

Ok, that being said, I want to suggest some other thoughts.  Colors AND Navigation are two of the main keys to any website.  With colors, the color chart for web design often lends itself to the following definitions:



Black Symbol of menace or evil, popular as an indicator of power. Associated with death and mourning, unhappiness, sexuality, formality, and sophistication.
White Purity or innocence. Cold, bland, and sterile.
Red Evokes strong emotions, associated with love, warmth, and comfort. Still considered an intense and angry color that creates feelings of excitement, intensity, sexuality.
Blue A favorite color for many people and the color most preferred by men. Gives the feelings of calmness or serenity. Described as peaceful, tranquil, secure, and orderly.
Green Symbolizes nature and the natural world. Represents tranquility, good luck, health, and jealousy. Symbol of fertility, has a calming effect and relieves stress.
Yellow Cheery and warm, but can also create feelings of frustration and anger. Most fatiguing to the eye (that’s why you’ll rarely see a bright yellow website or a room painted with yellow with the exception of playrooms for kids) yet most attention-getting color (so great color for important details or calls to action- remember the yellow stop/caution color).
Purple Royalty and wealth, wisdom and spirituality, sex and relationships, exotic and special.
Brown (all of us love wooden backgrounds). Natural color that evokes a sense of strength and reliability, warmth, comfort, and security.
Orange (banner color of the counter-culture). Blatant and vulgar color, makes you feel excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth. As a combination of red and yellow it’s often used to draw attention.
Pink Associated with love, romance, youth, freshness and may have a calming effect. Pink effect depends on the type of pink (strong, light, deep etc).


I took this table of color information off of a website blog that was posted on color usage (more about that here at

Note that Pink, and more specifically, Baby Pink, is really the best color for any purpose.  We don’t use it much though since it is often associated with baby girls.  You’ll note that we use Blue and Green a lot, and you can see why.  Strip Clubs inevitably have some Purple in them.  You can also see why Black is used by many MALE dominated sectors such as cars and motorcycles.  You can also see why sites with Black in them often have young sexy women straddling or laid out on the product.  Though men are most likely a predominance of who this particular client’s product is geared toward, they also have to show it to their spouses.  We want to appeal to the masses…AND to the Psychographic of our client.

Let’s take a specific market and look at how they interact.  Let’s look at batteries.  Take a look at the following websites:

Note how they all look to utilize the power colors of Black and Orange, much like Harley.   Of course they want to convey Power, that’s what they do.  But also note how they don’t go right at eachother from there.  Energizer claims to have POSITIVE Energy.  Note the PINK Energizer Bunny.  The Pink Bunny is friendly and cute and cuddly and just makes you want to buy that battery for your toys.  Of course, he’s still cool because he has Sunglasses and beats on a Drum while Marching.  Very manly.

Ok, Duracell claims to be the World’s Most Advanced Battery with a Hi Density Core.  Well, if you are a Fireman or a Policeman or something, you certainly want the best and just have to have a Hi Density Core to your battery.  Of course you are going to want that.  No cute and cuddly here.  You’ll buy the Duracell for your emergency flashlight and the Energizer for your kids toys, RIGHT?

But wait, where is Eveready?  Eveready has positioned themselves right in between these two leaders in the battery market.  They have a RED scheme which tells you Emergency, but they claim to be for Every Family, Everywhere, Every Day.  Nicely done.  They are for your common needs.  Not just for toys and certainly not for REAL important jobs.  Just for everyday use.  They all fit together nicely but don’t go head to head, per se.

You need to find your niche and where we fit in.  Either do it FAR better than anyone else or go after the correct Psychographic with the right message.  Sometimes, the product is not clear and doesn’t mean anything to most people.  If someone searching the internet is looking for your product, what do they do?  They go to the Internet and look up something related to what they are looking for and probably associate it with a location.  Many products require someone nearby, so they add their city to the search maybe.  That’s where they’re lost if we have our city as our key point.  We want to make sure we represent ALL of the areas we can serve.  Ensure that all of your keywords are represented, and we want to convey that we are your “Every Day Company for Everyone” much like Eveready.  It’s a nice play.  We are not the biggest and best, we are the shop for EVERYONE.

Too much stuff to handle in one post?  Go to or contact me directly at and let me know some of your thoughts on this.  You want to create a website that encompasses all of these things AND satisfies you and your company needs.  It’s important that everyone is happy with the site as you move forward.

If you are looking to get noticed on the Internet but don’t know where to begin, let PTC Computer Solutions help you get started or help improve your current website and website marketing plan.  We can plan a full budget for your company and complete any web marketing efforts you wish to achieve in order to deliver a consistent and effective message to your prospects.  Contact David W. B. Parker (when you think of “W. B.” think of WeB) at or go to for more information.

By David W. B. Parker
PTC Computer Solutions

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