Why is Blue the Most Commonly Used Website Color?

You may not even have noticed, but look around. Visit a handful of websites and you’ll see the color blue. It’s everywhere. In fact, it is so common, it may only be in its absence that it becomes noticeable. Recently, one man looked at the largest websites in the world and found nearly all shared the color.

“Its dominance is so total, in fact, that, in a recent analysis of the colors used by the ten most popular websites, designer Paul Hebert had to make an entirely separate category for turquoise,” reported Wired. “Hebert wanted to see what he could learn from the color palettes of the web’s most popular websites. […] So he wrote a script that would scrape the 10 most popular sites on the internet as ranked by Alexa, including the likes of Google (#1), Facebook (#3), and Amazon (#7). It produced complete lists of the colors found on those sites’ home pages, which Hebert then turned into a series of visualizations.”

For most, this is serious web nerdery meaning very little. But, it is important to note that when the most visited websites in the world share something in common, we should all probably pay attention.

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The bigger question is why? Why would so many places opt for blue. In the case of Facebook, it’s rather simple: CEO Mark Zuckerberg is red and green color blind. For the rest, the question remains. The Daily Mail says studies suggest it is because blue is considered a soothing color and that it evokes trust.

But, there is likely a more simplistic reason.

When the internet began, there were rather complicated limitations on all sorts of things from images to fonts to, yes, colors. The monitors used for computers (first, black and white, then, ultimately, monochromatic before full color) were very basic, like old television sets. They weren’t the sophisticated, flat screens we have today. As such, certain colors did not look good when displayed on them. Primary colors in particular were often downright painful to look at on the screen.

Blue was one of the few muted colors that translated well to these old school TVs.

Perhaps most important of all, many early monitors were unable to display more than 256 colors. These “web safe colors,” as you might imagine, didn’t reproduce the broad spectrum of shades we can see today. With only 256 colors to work with, blue became a common default.

Sure, there are other good reasons to use blue, some of which have to do with how it makes us feel. But, for quite a long time, the reasons were much simpler to explain. Fortunately, technology has adapted and now the millions of colors at our disposal give us vibrant and interesting choices even if we still often default to good old blue.

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