What’s in a color? Well according to color psychology theories, a lot. When you’re designing training and eLearning materials for your employees, the colors you utilize can make a big impact on how the material is received, comprehended and even retained.
But what exactly is color psychology, how does it pertain to corporate training, and why is it so important.
The Significance of Color
eLearning is heavily dependent on visual communication. When you understand just how certain colors affect the brain it can help you create eLearning materials that are more targeted and effective, saving you time and money in the training process.
Color has the ability to do everything from evoking particular emotions to increasing focus and the overall impact of the information being presented.
There’s extensive research in the arena of learning, including eLearning, and it points to the fact that more than 80 percent of information processed in the brain from the Internet occurs through sight.
Additionally, regardless of individual differences in learning styles, the primary way most people learn is heavily dependent on visual cues.
- Color has the ability to change the learner’s mood
- Particular colors can improve focus on the material being presented
- Even if a subject may initially be perceived as boring or uninteresting, choice of colors can make it seem more interesting and appealing
- More color contrast can draw the learner’s attention to the material and it can also increase visibility, which has been proven to improve retention of the subject matter
With that being said, it’s important to note not all colors improve the effectiveness of learning, and using too many colors within one set of learning materials can become overwhelming and actually reduce effectiveness.
How to Use Colors
There are countless ways you can utilize colors in your training materials, but here are three of the most relevant and effective methods:
- Use color as a way to attract attention. If you’re worried about your employees’ ability to stay focused on the material at-hand, particularly if it’s a dry subject matter, how you utilize color can help improve their attention span. If there is particularly salient information on a page that you really want your employees to be able to retain, use color psychology as a way to ensure this is something they focus on. When a learner is focusing on something, it also improves their level of retention.
- As we mentioned, be strategic with how you use colors in your training and learning materials. When you go overboard with the use of colors it can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. You need to remain professional with your use of colors and choose options that are bold, but not overly bright. For example, neon colors tend to be perceived as unprofessional. Bold colors should be used sparingly, and you should carefully plan how you’ll use colors in your materials.
- According to Color Matters, a research institute focusing on the role color plays in the world of learning and brand identity, the use of color improves readership by 40 percent, learning from 55 to 78 percent, and comprehension by 73 percent. To take advantage of this, create training materials with color coding, particularly with more technical subjects. One way to use color coding is to use colored backgrounds.
So Which Colors Work Best?
As mentioned, not all colors are created equally when it comes to learning, comprehension, and retention.
The best colors to use in your eLearning materials when you want to draw attention, promote focus and increase learning tend to be warm colors, like red, yellow and orange. Warm colors are believed to have a stimulating effect.
For example, red has been proven to draw attention to salient concepts, while yellow simulates the brain and the working memory.
Orange is an inviting color that helps make the material seem more exciting and less boring.
It’s best to use warm colors sparingly since they are so stimulating and can become “too much,” if not used carefully.
Cool colors, like blues and purples, are more calming. Blue is one of the most commonly used corporate colors for this reason—it helps readers to feel more at ease, so it’s a great color to use if you’re presenting a lot of information that can seem overwhelming at first. It helps the employee continue reading without becoming too anxious about what’s being presented.
Even black and white are colors that carry meaning and significance in color psychology. Black is a color that can make the reading of text easier, and it’s also a good color to use as a border or outline for an image or block of text because it provides emphasis and distinction.
White provides a break for the eyes, and it’s always good to include basic white space on a page that’s text-heavy because it allows the eyes to rest and helps avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed by materials.
When you’re creating your corporate training and learning materials, it’s always a good idea to do a little research and delve into color. Many people think of color only from an aesthetic standpoint, without understanding how important it is within the world of learning. Using the right colors in your eLearning can help you create materials that are effective and give you the best possible outcome for your employees.