How humans perceive colour



We use colour in everything, from art, design, photography and film, to the clothes we wear and the interiors we inhabit.

In colour and human interaction I look at how colour light is made up of colourless energy waves that enter through the eye where the brain then translates it into a colour.

Through understanding how colour works we can begin to make more informed colour choices.

The colour spectrum

For example the visible colour spectrum is made up of reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigo and violet. Each colour has a different light frequency.

Blues, indigo and violet are perceived by the human brain from high energy wavelengths of light; Greens from medium energy lightwaves; Reds, oranges and yellows from low energy.

Colour and nature

In the natural environment there is more blue, a high energy wavelength that travels farther (e.g. the sky) than there is red (e.g. petals of a flower), a low energy wavelength that does not travel very far.

Colour light is subject to change and the human eye has evolved to translate the wavelengths across billions of different colours to support our survival.

This may mean that a carefully selected range of colours of the right proportions may be beneficial to humans, that is – a more natural response to colour.

How colour affects humans

My research builds on the work of Faber Birren, noted author, professional colourist and researcher. Birren documented the psychological and physiological affects of colour on humans, i.e. how colour affects mind, body and spirit.

Can colour increase the productivity of staff, or lower blood pressure or have beneficial and non-beneficial affects on humans? The answer, according to Birren, is yes.

Try it. Which of the colour compositions in this presentation are you most drawn to?


The human eye perceives colours as a ‘result of electrical signals being sent from cones in our eyes to our brains’.

The Secret language of Colour (Eckstut)

Birren, F. (1963), Colour, From Ancient Mysticism to Modern Science. Citadel Press, New Jersey

Birren, F. (1963), Colour for Interiors, Historical and Modern, Whitney Publications, NY

Eckstut J. and Eckstut A. (2013), The Secret Language of Colour, Blackdog and Leventhal Publishers, NY

Digital Magazine Design Basics

Make a plan.

Six steps to planning a successful digital magazine or website.

Slide 1 (above) shows the six steps involved to deliver a successful digital magazine or website. Follow each step for each page or post created.

Slide 2 (above) shows examples of content styles. The message for this slide is ‘make a page plan’ for each page or post you create. Plan the User Interface (UI) and the User Experience (UX) to enable navigation around your site.

Slide 3 (above) explains three stages of a customer journey and the importance of defining a creative strategy for each page, post, media created. First define the search terms (keyword phrases) that users will use when looking for information online. Your content needs to match the search term.

Slide 4 (above) provides a list of popular Creative Assets to support the delivery of your content.

Slide 5 (above) shows examples of Content Styles. When looking for a WordPress Theme look carefully at how the pages are structured and styled. Although styling (fonts, colours etc.) can be edited to suit a brand identity look for a theme that has the features that you are looking for.

Slide 6 (above) encourages you to experiment. Looking at a range of options, creating prototypes and sharing with your audience/community for feedback will make for a better end product.

Slide 7 (above) explains the purpose of empathy mapping as a solution to test your digital product meets the needs of the user. For a more detailed explanation of empathy mapping and other strategies for user testing, visit the nngroup website.

Slide 8 (above) introduces the importance of Search Analytics using an example of the statistics available in the WordPress dashboard. Over time you will learn a lot about how customers/a community uses your site. This information will help you to plan future content. To learn more about Search Analytics visit Google’s Search Console Tools.

Reference links

Googles Search Console Tools

Nielson Norman Group (World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience)

WordPress Themes


These slide were designed in Illustrator. The original file is print ready (300 dpi, CMYK). A version was saved as a PDF document (available to download) and a version of each slide was exported and saved for web as a PNG file (72 dpi, RGB).

Slides designed in Illustrator by Wendy Corbett.

Learn more

Learn about how to use the CSS editor to customise the appearance of any WordPress.com site

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