Why the Color of Your Survey is So Important
Do you ever wonder why most surveys are gray? Sure, there might be some color around the edges or a border that has the brand’s color theme, but the part of the survey where you read the question and select an answer is very often gray.
Example 1: Best Buy
Example 2: Taco Bell (when did Taco Bell become so gray?)
Gray has long been considered a cool, neutral, and balanced color. Psychologists say gray doesn’t trigger any one emotion. This was important in traditional surveys because gray is believed to keep response bias low. Response bias refers to a wide range of cognitive biases that influence the responses of participants from an accurate or truthful response. In a self-administered activity like a survey, limiting the response bias is very important in gathering honest feedback data. You don’t want to do anything to influence your respondent’s mood and response.
While this grey color theory for surveys definitely served a purpose in the past, it appears to be less and less relevant in the present and future. There are psychological factors that affect consumers today that didn’t in the past when online surveys were originally designed.
For starters, consumers are typically engaged with technology and mobile devices much more regularly than they used to be. According to a study conducted by CNN, Americans devote 10 hours and 39 minutes per day to using their tablets, smart phones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, and other devices with bright colorful screens and vibrant activity. Seeing something that isn’t as colorful can almost be argued as abnormal to the modern consumer. It’s like going from watching a TV in color to watching it in black and white.
Many market researchers, who tend to be the survey creators for their companies, have long refused to add color, or any other interactive component, to surveys because of the possible response bias it creates. While that’s a valid argument, this refusal to change the user experience and interface created incredibly negative perceptions for surveys over time. People now expect surveys to be boring, long, time-consuming and well, gray.
Creative agency Bourn Creative says the color gray “affects the mind and body by causing unsettling feelings.” According to Bourn Creative, gray is a “practical color that is often associated with loss or depression.” (See more of their Color Meaning Blog Series here.) It’s fair to assume gray is no longer an effective color for surveys. So what is?
At Wyzerr, we believe the right colors for a survey are Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red. In an age where tech and smart devices dominate our lives, surveys have to be vibrant and colorful too. We don’t use color to intentionally influence a survey respondent’s answer. Rather, we know color already influences modern consumers in their day-to-day activities and use those influences to create associations that makes it easier to answer a survey question.
Below you’ll find our Color Theory at Wyzerr as well as snippets from an awesome blog series by Bourn Creative on Color Meaning.
Most games already utilize the color RED to infer bad, failure, or incorrect. On a customer satisfaction survey, having a RED option makes it easier for respondents to convey their feedback on a bad experience. However, RED doesn’t always have to mean failure.
Red, the color of blood and fire, is associated with meanings of love, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality, sensitivity, romance, joy, strength, leadership, courage, vigor, willpower, rage, anger, danger, malice, wrath, stress, action, vibrance, radiance, and determination.
Green is often associated with being right, good, correct, or winning. On many digital games, having a green bar often means life. On a customer satisfaction survey, including a green option provides a trigger to remember a good experience. Here’s more on the color green:
Green, the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy, is associated with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, and environment. Green is also traditionally associated with money, finances, banking, ambition, greed, jealousy, and wall street.
There’s a reason why Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram all chose various shades of blue for their company color. Blue is a calming, relaxing color that symbolizes comfort, sky, water, sleep, the mind, trustworthiness and safety. Blue promotes interaction. (More here at Blueleadz) As such, we regard blue as the highest rating level for satisfaction. It goes beyond a Satisfactory Green. It is a rating associated with over-achieving or going an extra mile.
Blue represents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence.
It’s no wonder many video games use blue to represent more life or power.
Finally, yellow at Wyzerr means OKAY. It’s not terrible, it’s not great. It’s a passing score and means caution. It’s not a bad thing to get a yellow rating. Yellow is actually the most critical rating for a business. You have an equal opportunity of improving to a GREEN (good) rating or spiraling to a RED (bad) rating. At yellow, you have the opportunity to turn an okay experience into a great one. Here’s what Bourn Creative says about yellow:
Yellow, the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness, has conflicting associations. On one hand yellow stands for freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honor, loyalty, and joy, but on the other, it represents cowardice and deceit. A dull or dingy yellow may represent caution, sickness, and jealousy.
We highly recommend utilizing all four colors throughout your survey if it is a satisfaction survey. If it is not a satisfaction survey, we highly recommend using one color throughout the entire survey.
Example of A Satisfaction Survey:
Example of a Non-Satisfaction Survey (like a market research survey):
Special shout out to the awesome folks at The Bourn Creative for this amazing Color Meaning Blog Series that we referenced throughout our blog. For an organized and simple read on Color Theory, I highly recommend you visit their blog. They provide branding services so if you need a logo, check them out!