In Defense of “Boring” Blue Calls-to-Action

By Josh Christopher, UX Creative Director at projekt202

Lately, I’ve heard many folks prod and poke at the poor defenseless blue buttons and text links. That being said, I felt it necessary to stick up for our little UI components as they cannot effectively stand up for themselves. So below is a list of what blue calls-to-action have going for them.

Types of color blindness

Blue is accessible

So many companies today are doing this wonderful thing — they are striving to make software products everyone can use, regardless of their abilities. Orange and blue are the two colors that tend to be visible to most humans. Utilization of blue makes sense if you are designing with usability in mind. If you do choose to innovate on color, there are some really great tools out there like colorsafe.co to help you find accessible color variations for your buttons and text links.

Look at all that blue iOS 9 UI Kit Template from http://www.sketchappsources.com

A conditioned response

For the same reason we now generally accept that a user’s understanding of iconography is based on previous experience, one could also make the case that users have become accustomed to looking for the blue text link or button and are familiar with the pattern when wanting to take action. It is used everywhere — I mean, iOS and Android regularly use blue to highlight a primary call to action, browser default hyperlinks are #0000EE I can go on, and on. I won’t go so far as saying it’s a “universal pattern” but I think it is safe to say, if you plan to select a color most familiar to your users, then blue will be your Huckleberry.

Art School - Complimentary and Analogous Colors

Color theory

Ok, so this one is getting slightly more soft, but if we go for a trip back to art school and revisit color theory (hang in there with me), blue is a color compliment to warmer tones like orange, and it is an analogous color to cooler colors like green and purple. Therefore, it is not only a color that most people will be able to recognize (accessible), but it will most likely either compliment your brand’s palette or it will be in a similar family as your company’s brand color and will go nicely with it. As a general aside, if you are using a very prevalent color through your entire design and are A/B testing button options for throughput, your best bet may be to pull focus and create a hierarchy on them by selecting a compliment of the color used most aggressively throughout.

Image from Techinsider.io

It subtly signals daytime to your brain

This one is super soft so I will end on it. But, there is some high level research out there by companies like f.lux (also the new ‘Night Shift’ in iOS 9.3) that suggest warmer colors are better for users’ health and can better prepare them for sleep if using devices in bed. Therefore, the opposite could be implied for blue light. Though possibly detrimental to your users’ sleep, it may help signal to the user that they need to be alert. I know this is stretch. Feel free to blast me to death in the comments, but I just wanted to make sure I was thorough here.

Look, I’m not some grandpa telling you to only use blue as if it is some sort of universal color choice for all calls-to-action. I am simply saying there is plenty of good to be said for the good ol’ fashioned, arguably overused, but effectively hard to dispute, blue button. Drops mic.