A quick glance at the app store shows a kaleidoscope of icon colours and styles. A brand wants to be bold, experimental, fresh or elegant but there’s only so many ways to differentiate. Do consumers really judge a product or company by its colour scheme?
The answer is sort of. Colors certainly convey an impression, just not always the way we expect. When it comes to the small screen, traditional theory of calming trustworthy blues and exciting fiery reds is becoming outdated. Emotional connections are about brand associations and familiarity. Productivity apps are often blue, kids apps use bold primary colours and art apps use rainbow spectrums. But a red productivity app isn’t going to be judged as better or worse. Nor is it likely to stand out. Breaking the mold just doesn’t have the effect that it used to because the molds have long been battered to crumbs.
Which colour is less important than how color used. It’s about how many colors, pastels versus primaries or dark tones and branding strategy. Bright colors draw attention, useful but also potentially distracting. Contrast is key. The user experience is more affected by clarity and ease of use than pure aesthetics. Colors are functional. They direct focus, communicate interactivity or separate categories.
So how do you choose colors for an app?
First and foremost be consistent with your brand strategy.
Second, what is the app content? What purpose will colors have in the functionality? Do you need a certain number of colors to define categories, or features? If the app contains a lot of content like pictures then the menu and button should be neutral.
Third, How do you want the user to feel? What impression are you trying to make? Every one wants to convey trust, but beyond that, is your app playful, scholarly, natural? Are you trying to align with a stereotype or do the unexpected?