On Design: What Does Red Mean?

I just updated my preferences in Rackspace’s Noteworthy hosted email service. They confirmed my changes when they reloaded the page with RED TEXT like this:


I thought I had done something wrong.

Here are some of the physiological effects of the colour red:

Red increases the pulse and heart rate, and raises your blood pressure. It increases the appetite by increasing your metabolism, which is why red is such a popular color in restaurants. It is active, aggressive and outspoken. One bank found that their lines moved faster when they increased the use of red in the bank lobby, and in a study of several hundred college students, a researcher found that they responded more quickly to cues under red light than under green light.

Powerful stuff eh? Red text (like a red marker from your school days) also has negative connotaions…it is inherently “alarming” to see something in red text – I know I feel alarmed when I see red text and that is who I felt using Noteworthy.

To confirm a message when you are building web apps, use a happy colour like green and reinforce good behaviour and build trust. Doing this also lets you save red for when you need it…to alert and alarm your users when they have done something, or are about to do something, they need to be aware of.

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  • http://www.arcagroup.ca ARCA group

    I completely agree that the color red should only be used for warnings. Maybe it is somehow related to when we were in school and our teachers graded our papers with red. I also think people use CAPITALS too much when they are trying to get a point across, I wonder if they realize that it is much harder to read and using bold is much more effective.

  • http://www.freshbooks.com/our-team.php#michael Mike McDerment

    Zionks! I know I use capitals (some might say too much…), but I like them as a way to add emphasis in a purely text world world like RSS (some readers don’t include HTML for things like bold).

  • Clark Wilkins

    You’re right on track here. I’ve been revisiting a lot of messaging done in QMD for just this reason.

  • http://google alexis

    i have a question what does the color red mean?

  • http://none D. Meyers

    I was told that red is a warm color. what would the effect of having one red wall (in a room) do?

  • http://---- E. Blanco

    El color rojo es mi color favorito. El mismo… Mi dormitorio es rojo porque me gusta y fue sensual.

  • Nan

    what does red mean, especially when uses this color font for emailing?????

  • m. knight

    really what does red mean?,becauce my teacher gave us projects to do for dance class, and we have to express are selfs in colors, and my color is RED!!!!!!!!!!! so i really would like to know!!!!!……….

  • http://www.rajulal.com raju lal

    give me red

  • Mungo

    Red should be used for warnings but there are exceptions. I am a Nurse and look after Demented patients, because of altered brain messages and the loss of memory general colours become null and void and mean nothing. The colour red is one prevelent colour that means anything to them and therefore brings focus. Red does not mean Danger to the confued or demented patient.