September 27, 2019

Dark or Light? How to Choose a WordPress Color Scheme

Having a successful WordPress site is all about being able to grab attention and convert that attention into clicks and leads. There are countless strategies for ensuring your WordPress site attracts viewers, from SEO tactics to mobile-formatting, to link-building. However, one area that is often sorely overlooked is the color scheme of your site.

WordPress is, by most measures, the most popular web CMS on the planet, and for that reason, the site offers practically limitless options for customization. Your color scheme can be anything imaginable, which is why choosing the right one for you might seem like a daunting task.

The color scheme of your WordPress is about so much more than aesthetics: it will affect the user experience (UX), shareability, and may even influence which companies decide to advertise on your site. If you need a little bit of help choosing the ideal color scheme for your site, read on to find out what you need to know.

apple, apple devices, simply
White color schemes are associated with cleanliness and utility

White & Light Reigns Supreme

The numbers have been crunched and the results indicate that a majority of high-traffic websites seem to favor white or very light color schemes over alternative options. Consider well-known sites such as the Apple website, or the much-celebrated web design of global boutique bike makers Nua Bikes, and you’ll see that such sites have clearly dedicated a lot of thought and time into curating an airy, light theme for their platform. There are countless examples of companies from every industry using this color scheme, but why do they do it? The reasons are both practical and theoretical.

For one, white is often the default theme for all web building tools and platforms, WordPress included. For HTML, Java, Python, and the other major programming languages, white is the default color for all creations, meaning that any different colors require extra work to include. This utility goes a long way in saving websites time and money when it comes to the design stage.

In addition, it is universally agreed among teachers, designers, and psychologists that white backgrounds with dark text are the best combination for readability. The last thing you want is for potential customers to reach your site and then struggle to read any of the content. It is, for this reason, most importantly that white backgrounds reign supreme.

However, utility isn’t the whole story here. White backgrounds have a lot of positive implications when it comes to brand identity and consumer psychology. For one, white has strong associations with cleanliness, wellbeing, and calmness. It’s the reason why wellness behemoths such as Exos employ a religiously-strict white color scheme in all of their digital and physical branding.

In addition, white has become strongly associated with value, quality, practicality, and usefulness in recent years, at least within the North American and European context (in some cultures it can symbolize the opposite of this). It’s the reason why more premium companies such as Apple or Dior use white and light color schemes throughout their websites – it symbolizes the quality you can expect to receive in return for paying a premium for a luxury good. Color schemes matter, which is why so much money is invested every year in this kind of brand research.

What Do Users Actually Prefer?

Of course, what brand psychologists think isn’t the whole story, but they are definitely on the right track. Based on a recent web survey, it seems that a significant chunk of users prefer a white background on the websites that they visit. It is commonly cited that white backgrounds make it easier for users to identify key information on the page and add to an overall feeling of good UX, which is crucial to consider when designing your own WordPress site. However, the same survey also pointed out that an almost equal number of users enjoy dark color schemes on websites. So how do you cater to the darker crowd? Let’s take a look.

office, flowers, apple
Dark schemes, on the other hand, are associated with gravitas and quality

Benefits of Darker Color Schemes

Darker color schemes can be greatly advantageous to white ones for a number of reasons, depending on the purpose of your website. Consider the kind of brands that most frequently stick to the darkest possible color for their digital branding: black.

This approach is commonly adopted by sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Blue Ivy. It is also used by real-money gaming websites, particularly major online casinos like 888 casino which employ black to give a sleek, almost business-like effect. Luxury menswear brands such as Tag Heuer and Armani use black schemes, as well as financial titans like JP Morgan Chase & Co.

So, what does this tell us? For one, it’s clear that darker schemes are more closely associated with high-energy, sleek, and exclusive brands and products. The dark, rich tones of dark color schemes are frequently used to convey seriousness, quality, and a sense of excitement and anticipation, which is why the brands mentioned above use it.

In addition, dark color schemes are most frequently associated with masculine energy, so if you’re trying to specifically target a male demographic with your website, then a darker scheme should be considered. In color psychology, black schemes are, perhaps most importantly, associated with gravitas. It’s a way to ensure the viewer that you’re serious about what you do and can provide expertise and quality.

If you opt for a dark or black color scheme for your WordPress site, bear in mind that you’ll need to adopt other things to ensure readability and ease of use. All text should be white, ideally, eggshell or dove, as this will look crisp, clear, and easy to read on any black background. Remember to add white borders around pop-ups, images, or key information on your page, so that it is easy to identify and doesn’t just fade into the background.

Most importantly, choosing a WordPress color scheme is a holistic process, which goes beyond simply opting between dark or light. You’ll need to build your scheme step-by-step, seeing what works most effectively as a whole for you, your brand, and your audience.

About the author 

Anu Balam

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