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Why do most social media websites use blue as the main color? e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare, ...

I am only interested in answers based on some scientific research.

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Perhaps, it has to do with a distinctive theme for social media sites. [Not an 'answer', as it's not based on research.] –  Kris Dec 6 '11 at 4:22
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Facebook is blue because Mark Zukerberg is red-green colorblind. Facebooks blue color design inspired other social sites? –  Tarscher Dec 6 '11 at 9:27
    
Windows Xps desktop picture had a lot of blue: some grass and lots of blue sky –  PhillipW Dec 6 '11 at 11:34
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Blue has been prevalent in design since before facebook. Blue's a great color for the great majority of colorblind users too, since it lets you pick a secondary color that's almost certainly readable to red green colorblind users. –  Ben Brocka Dec 6 '11 at 14:16
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MySpace was blue before all these sites were. –  CoderDennis Aug 9 '12 at 19:54
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Searching on the web for this I came up with this article.

Quoting from an "Applied Colour Psychology Specialist":

Colour Psychology Blue is the colour of the intellect, the mind, making it the colour of communication and when you think about social media, it’s all about communicating.

Blue also has the perception as being trustworthy, dependable, safe and reliable. These are the perceived positive qualities of a business who chooses blue.

World’s Favourite Colour Research has also shown blue to be the world’s most popular colour.

... read more at the link

Hope this helps

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@AlanHo also, Leon: Think the social networking site designers considered these aspects when deciding on the theme? Any references/ interesting stories? –  Kris Dec 6 '11 at 9:09
    
yes, color is one of the most important factors when designing an interface, as it conveyes the overall "mood feeling" of the design. Can't find any references now, I'll have to dig up more "scientific research", but I hope my link above is already helping in that direction –  Leon Dec 6 '11 at 9:15
    
thanks again. I am not expecting some digging up, though. Rather, if anyone happens to have gone through this exercise of evaluating color schemes. –  Kris Dec 6 '11 at 9:20
    
Blue is an extremely safe color (if you're not using red too!) I was about to post some data about blue being the "most favorite"/popular color as well. –  Ben Brocka Dec 6 '11 at 14:15
    
good stuff, thanks –  Fel Dec 6 '11 at 14:39
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My own research is based on examination of the world around me...

enter image description here

...well - that's not quite how it looks out my window - but that would be lovely.

And that's my point - you only have to look to the skies for the colour blue which is why blue is associated with clarity, optimism, heights, hope, wonder, and calmness.

Blue has been shown in placebo drug trials to be a depressant rather than a stimulant. I can well believe that the calming affect of blue combined with the above characteristics related to the 'sky' effect would result in users having a greater desire to settle in a calm place and therefore staying longer on such a web page rather than the itching-to-move-on that might come with more stimulating colours.

In the above research (British Medical Journal 313 Dec 1996):

In a single blind experiment showing the effect of placebo Blackwell et al asked 100 medical students to participate in an experiment in which they they would receive either a sedative or stimulant drug." All of the 56 students who volunteered in fact received either a blue or a pink placebo. Subjects taking the blue placebos felt less alert (66%) than those taking the pink (26%) and also more drowsy (72% v 37% respectively).

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sorry but where is the "scientific research" in your answer? As much as I'd like that view from my window (or rather swim in it :), it doesn't really answer the OP's question –  Leon Dec 6 '11 at 9:27
    
@RogerAttrill: "...clarity, optimism, heights, hope, wonder, and calmness." Yes, but how is that associated with only the Social Networking sites? –  Kris Dec 6 '11 at 10:06
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It's not associated only with social networking sites - it doesn't have to be. I believe a need to find connection that relates blue only to social networking sites is a red herring (not a blue herring). Blue is seemingly a good colour for any site that might require users to stick around (and can provide the added interest to make that happen). A handful of the top social networking sites just happen to be a very good fit to the theory, but for each popular blue social network, I'm sure you can find another that is not predominantly blue. –  Roger Attrill Dec 6 '11 at 10:20
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My guess is that it is due to:

    1. Readability
    2. Simultaneous contrast of colors
    3. Allowing access to the color-blind: The audience of social networking sites would reach out to people far and wide.

Black-on-White has high readability and so does Blue-on-White (Abysoft and Colors on the Web).
Perhaps, Black-on-White gives people a monochrome impression. Therefore, Blue-on-White themes are more used instead. Other reasons, I guess, are the perception of blue in the societal and cultural context.

For details on color blindness, please see colorvisiontesting.com for article.

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Funny how nothing from that seems to be mentioned in the link below - and I can see why - color contrast and readability are not such big issues anymore (with nowadays high-quality monitors), and color-blindness affects only about 8.5% of the population - and btw BLUE is the worst color for color-blinds - so I doubt that's the reason... ;-) –  Leon Dec 6 '11 at 9:25
    
@Leon Well, what I mean by color contrast is really geared towards the harmony of colors. (Assuming the background is white and text in black). Same thing for color-blinds, it's more of blue (which may look gray) on white versus other analogous colors which may turn out different shades of gray. –  Alan Ho Dec 6 '11 at 10:11
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