Orange and Yellow – The Warm Colors

Orange and Yellow – The Warm Colors

Yellow, orange and red are the colors typically referred to as the ‘warm colors’ of the spectrum. Orange is considered an energetic color that evokes enthusiasm and excitement. Yellow is considered to be cheery, but when people are overexposed to yellow, the color tends to do the opposite effect and evoke frustration and anger. There is one thing that both of these colors are used for, it is turning your head and grabbing your attention.


The bright and cheery color orange evokes feelings of balanced aggression, and driven, bold action. Every day when we drive we are faced with hundreds of signs all colored orange with black lettering and symbols. These signs are made to get your attention in a world of very short attention spans.

Over time, we’ve psychologically trained ourselves to see the color orange as an attention getter. It is often used in a websites ‘call to action’. Even today, large internet company’s like Amazon and PayPal use orange on their purchase buttons. Look around the websites you typically visit to see how they mostly now use the color orange not in the main color scheme, but as an accent color in a ‘look at me’ situation. Along with Buy Now buttons, orange is also commonly used in subscription forms and sign-up forms.


In the world of gnat-like attention spans, yellow is everything that orange is and even more so. If you look at our culture today, yellow is used in every safety situation. I think this is most obvious in our school buses and construction vehicles and signage. Similar to orange, yellow is used in traffic signs and call to action buttons on the internet. It is the most attention grabbing color and is known as warm and cheery as long as you use it as a highlight, accent or attention grabber.

One of the funny things about yellow is because it is so fatiguing to the eye, being exposed to of a lot of yellow, as in painted walls, lead to eye strain, which then leads to feelings of frustration. Studies have shown that babies left in a yellow room are more likely to cry than babies in a non-yellow room. Similarly, people in a yellow room are more likely to lose their tempers than those in rooms of other colors.

So, my advice to all of my designer buddies is unless the color scheme is yellow and orange or their logo is yellow and orange, use these warm colors sparingly in your designs as accents, highlights and in your call to actions. Always be mindful that anywhere that you do use these two colors will likely be where the eye is drawn to initially. So consider adding yellow or orange to your call to action for a quick and easy way to increase your conversion ratios.

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