Why Colour And Cultural Considerations Are Integral To Web Design (Part 3)

In this final installment regarding the use of colour in our web designs and how other cultures will interpret it, we look at the final three colours of the wheel. In parts one and two of this article, we looked at why it is important to understand these different interpretations to avoid offending potential viewers, and this focus is continued here.


Many people actually view brown as being a “non-colour” because it has neutral tendencies, but this does not mean that it doesn’t have its own associations. In Western cultures, for example, the colour brown is seen as being earthy but also associated with health or barrenness (complete opposites). In the Eastern and Asian cultures of the world, brown is actually synonymous with mourning, and should not be used in web design. According to Latin American people, brown is unsavoury – it is said to discourage sales. And finally, in the Middle East, brown is seen as being earthy and comfortable.


The universal associations of the colour black include magic and the unknown, which can have both good and bad connotations. The Middle East, in perfect synchronization with this, sees black as being linked with both rebirth and with mourning. In Latin American cultures, black is also associated with mourning but is also seen as being highly masculine. Web designs from Eastern and Asian cultures have quite a different view, associating black with masculinity, wealth and prosperity. The Western cultures of the world also view black as being associated with mourning and death, but it is also the colour of formality.


When it comes to universal interpretations for white, the one that crops up most often is the colour as a symbol of truce. According to Western cultures, white is the colour or purity and peace (as often shown by its use in weddings). The colour has plenty of use in hospitals, as it is seen as clean and sterile. Those from Eastern and Asian cultures see white as the colour of death and mourning and, as such, it should not be used in web design. The Latin American cultures mirror those of Western in that white is the colour of purity and peace. And the Middle East sees white as being associated with both purity and mourning.

In all three parts of this article, we have looked at the ways that various colours are interpreted by other cultures across the world. It is important to keep in mind that, for every positive connotation there is probably going to be a negative one and that, with a thorough understanding of all these associations, we can continue to create web designs that are as inviting to people of all cultures as possible.