Color Me Communicative

© Can Stock Photo / roxanabalint

A Wendy’s Wednesday Whimsy

Did you catch Jason Zweig’s recent post, “It’s the Little Things That Can Color an Investor’s Outlook”? In it, he shared the results of a recent study on how strongly we behaviorally biased humanoids can be swayed simply by the color in which our investment choices are displayed. When participants saw financial losses in fire-alarm red instead of benign black and white, their responses were more frequently stained with the telltale fingerprints of fear and risk aversion … unless, unsurprisingly, they were colorblind.

So that’s one interesting data point suggesting that the colors in your communications may matter more than you realize, and not always as you might expect from a financial accounting point of view.

This important message, often overlooked, reminds me of an article I stumbled across recently by software developer Nick Babich, entitled “Red, White, and Blue.” Babich is a self-described “UI/UX lover,” which may sound nefarious but it means he concentrates on how to improve websites’ user interface (UI) and user experience (UE).

In other words, colors are his bag, baby. He offers several other reasons you should be more in touch with your and your clients’ inner rainbow than you may currently be.

I’m not just talking about making your communications prettier, mind you; it’s not about decorating what you have to say. It’s about saying it more effectively. If you read Babich’s advice through our usual, evidence-tinted lens, you’ll soon see he is even speaking our language. Here’s my summary of his concepts to consider when you’re overhauling your website, rebuilding your branding, or otherwise playing with finger paints.

Keep it simple.

Choose no more than three primary colors, guided by preexisting schemes and standards. In fact, a monochromatic palette is among the simplest and, perhaps for that reason, most soothing of selections.

Consider the overall effect.

Don’t just go for your personally favorite picks, thrown together with abandon. Apply solid strategies such as building a palette of analogous or complementary colors to convey an overall mood.

Add a splash of individual panache.

Once you’ve applied sound strategy to your color design, you can more confidently make exceptions to the rules, to enhance the experience and/or punctuate key points. If your eye has ever been drawn straight to that bright red “message” bubble in the corner of an otherwise monochromatic screen, you know what I’m talking about.

Be guided by those who know.

Babich suggests adhering to the same, classic design rules that are second nature to professional designers, as well as being inspired by the most masterful color artist of all: Mother Nature.

Start with a plan.

By designing first in grayscale (black & white) and then applying color, the design work is driven by the desired communication, rather than the other way around.

Sounds a lot like your preferred methods for managing clients’ investments, doesn’t it? Remember this the next time you’re running with colors.