How to use colour psychology to your advantage on your recruitment website

There are a number of practical elements to consider when designing a recruitment website – intuitive navigation, an easy-to-search jobs page and optimised copy, amongst others. However, there is another element that many overlook. The colours used in your website design are crucial and not just from a branding perspective but as a form of emotional and behavioural psychology. 

Colour psychology is powerful, influencing visitors’ emotions, the way they feel about your brand and the entire user experience on your website. The colours and colour schemes used can affect how visitors to your site respond both immediately and over a greater period of browsing. Studies have shown that first impressions are formed within 50 milliseconds, during which the brain would only have time to take in visuals. If visitors decide to stay on your website after those first few milliseconds, colours can help to further strengthen your brand messaging and encourage them to perform certain actions. 

Everything from the colour of the text, to the background colour, to the shades you choose for your CTA buttons and the way those colours work together matters, influencing the way your users feel about your website and, by extension, your business.

What is colour psychology?

Colour psychology is the study of the way colour affects human emotion and behaviour. It is essentially universal as colours directly affect the brain but they can also be cultural (e.g. white is associated with weddings in many western countries but funerals in East Asian countries) and some will have personal connotations. That said, it is a helpful design tool to consider how colour affects the way humans react so that you can think about it strategically within your website’s design. 

Red – urgency and passion

A stand-out colour, red grabs attention but needs to be used sparingly or it can overwhelm and cause visual strain. It can also be associated with anger and jealousy so make sure it is used with plenty of white. As it creates a sense of urgency and will stand out against a neutral colour such as white it is often used on call to action buttons.

Yellow – safety and happiness

Yellows have a dual aspect, evoking both feelings of safety and caution (think high vis jackets and hard hats) and happiness and positivity (sunshine and sunflowers). Because of this, yellow is often seen on wellness sites, as well as travel. It’s a warm, cheerful, uplifting colour but can overpower so using it as an accent colour works well.

Orange – positivity and enthusiasm

Like yellow, orange can evoke happy, positive feelings. It has the warmth of yellow and the urgency of red but the sense of aggression red can sometimes evoke. It stands out and encourages positive action, making it perfect for call to action buttons. It also inspires creativity, which is why many do-it-yourself hardware stores use it in their logos. 

Green – nature and health

The strongest connotation that green has is with the natural world and the outdoors. If you recruit within an environmental, health or outdoor industry, or want to send a strong message about your commitment to sustainable recruiting, you will want to include light greens somewhere in your colour scheme. Darker greens can evoke luxury and wealth so are good shades for recruiters in finance sectors. 

Blue – trust and loyalty

Blue evokes a sense of trust, loyalty, security, integrity and responsibility. This is probably why many financial institutions, schools and the police utilise blue colour schemes. It’s a calming colour that has the opposite affect to red. Some organisations add a trust certification or guarantee in blue on their website to strengthen that feeling of trust. It can be considered conservative which is ideal in corporate sectors but may not work for more creative industries.

Pink – compassion and softness

Traditionally, pink has been seen as a feminine colour but that is changing as gendered colours begin to fade away. However, it is still associated with stereotypically feminine traits such as gentility and compassion and will add a softness to your website. Bolder pinks can evoke playfulness and confidence, while softer pinks are more calming and have a sense of sophistication.

Purple – nobility and spirituality

Like deep greens, purple conveys luxury, wealth and royalty. It can also evoke spirituality and high ideals, as well as a sense of dignity. Overuse it and it may inject an air of arrogance so add hints of it as a colour pop or accent instead. It’s ideal for the beauty industry or financial sectors.

Brown – reliability and simplicity

Brown’s connection to the earth evokes a feet-on-the-ground, down-to-earth dependability. It feels wholesome and reliable, warm and comfortable. Rich browns work well in food industries, lighter browns in outdoor sectors. It can be a dull colour so use sparingly.

Black – luxury and power

While it can have darker connotations, the advertising industry has long used black to denote elegance, luxury, power and prestige and it can be found in many designer brands. Black has an immediate impact but is best used as an accent, either to vivid colours or to white. Too much black will dominate the screen and can bring the mood down as well as making the page visually difficult to decipher. 

White – cleanliness and order

White is considered a clean, orderly, pure colour, which is why it is used to great effect on healthcare recruitment websites. It’s also utilised hugely in minimalist design and to allow pops of colour to really stand out. Ensure you incorporate plenty of white space into your design, especially around copy and buttons, to avoid overcrowding (something that is especially important when optimising your website for mobile devices).  

Complement your branding

While colour psychology is an important consideration, your number one priority is to boost your branding by utilising your logo’s colours throughout your website. To this end, you need to complement those colours with the right palette. Often contrasting colours will work but ensure they remain in line with the messaging you want to push. 

Essentially, when it comes to the colour you choose for your website you need to ensure the connotations fit with the industry you recruit in, match and complement your branding, and help to push your messaging.