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I'm trying to implement an inbox for users and there is an indicator in the site that shows you how many new messages you have.

When I use blue for notifications it nicely fits in the site, and red is OK.

From a UX point of view, is it a good practice to show new messages in blue or we should stick to red? (like google and many more sites)

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3 Answers

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It's very difficult to answer this question. When you choose a colour for an element there are many other unknown factors that would need to be taken into account.

For instance, the following questions might need to be considered:

  • What are your overarching aims?

    • Do you want the element to contrast with surrounding elements?

    • Do you want to create more consistency between elements?

  • What else is competing for your user's attention?

  • When do you want your user to notice the element?

  • What kind of reaction should your user ideally respond with?

  • How often will this type of element be displayed?

  • Do the chosen contrasting colours combine well?

    • in terms of aesthetics / appeal

    • in terms of common colour vision deficiency

  • etc ...

Address these types of questions and you'll be able to answer the question for your own specific case.

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It depends on the surrounding colors and how much you want to disrupt your users' attention. Red is generally associated with high level of alertness or "critical" warnings. However, it's used on many sites for neutral notifications because of the high contrast with the color of surrounding elements (many colors on SE, blue on Facebook, shades of gray on Google, dark green on Forrst, etc). This ensures high engagement with notifications but, at the same time, it may break users' interaction flow with your app since stark contrast draws a lot of attention.

Thus, if you want your users to act on notifications ASAP make them red (unless the surrounding elements are of reddish colors). Otherwise, blue will work, too.

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In my opinion it would definitely depend on the color scheme of your whole application. Some of last few applications I have always used the 'Red Color'. Simply because - Red denotes 'Alert' or 'Something important' and grabs the attention.

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