“Action Orange” is the New Blue

Orange, orange, orange…anyone else seeing orange everywhere you turn these days? I swear, I'm seeing it pushed live on sites that had none and then gone to orange to one degree or another, from one day to the next.


MagentoMagento has no doubt been playing a big part in this adoption by so many so quickly, which certainly makes sense since it's such a bold, motivating color or CTA (Call to Action) when used properly. Orange successfully calls out the action intended to motivate the user to do something, whether it's to make a purchase, signup for a service, or flow through some sort of process, it just works.

Dice Netflix

Conversely, some sites or apps, both mobile and web, will use either green or a very orange or burgundy-red, in place of orange. A popular match seems to be blue and green, which I'm not so fond of. I think the burgundy red or dark orange (burnt orange if you will), works equally well when a more subtle motivation is desired.


You'll also see a combo of both orange, or Action Orange as I'm fond of callng it, with green or blue, and in some cases as the above example shows: all three. It's not my first choice, but when some of the biggest contenders online make a go of it, it's hard to ignore.

Now, why all this orange anyway? Why so popular?

Home Depot

It comes down to a matter of sight, or moreover, seeing color or rather, the lack thereof. Yes, I'm referring to color blindness (or perhaps more in hand with ADA naming standards, color deficiency).

A quick overview of color deficiency and some statistics:

  • Color blindness (color vision deficiency) is a condition in which certain colors cannot be distinguished, and is most commonly due to an inherited condition. Red/Green color blindness is by far the most common form, about 99%, and causes problems in distinguishing reds and greens. Another color deficiency Blue/Yellow also exists, but is rare and there is no commonly available test for it.
  • Depending on just which figures you believe, color blindness seems to occur in about 8% – 12% of males of European origin and about one-half of 1% of females. I did not find any figures for frequency in other races. Total color blindness (seeing in only shades of gray) is extremely rare.
  • There is no treatment for color blindness, nor is it usually the cause of any significant disability. However, it can be very frustrating for individuals affected by it. Those who are not color blind seem to have the misconception that color blindness means that a color blind person sees only in black and white or shades of gray. While this sort of condition is possible, it is extremely rare. Being color blind does keep one from performing certain jobs and makes others difficult.

Source: http://www.toledo-bend.com/colorblind/aboutCB2.asp


Interestingly, Facebook was designed with its heavy use of blue due to Zuckerberg being colorblind himself:

I once asked Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook why he chose blue for his site design… "I'm color blind, it's the only color I can see." …and now 500 Million people around the world stare at a mostly blue website for hours each week.

Source: http://www.colourlovers.com/business/blog/2010/09/15/the-most-powerful-colors-in-the-world

From the same source, comes an interesting image color study in 2010 of the colors of the brands from the top 100 sites in the world. It also makes for some cool color diagrams, as one example below shows:

Colour Lovers

Whether orange continues on its wild upswing or just fizzles out as quickly as the next web trend is unclear, but regardless, I think it'll continue to play its part as a powerful, actionable item for any designer or architect's intended user.

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