I have used a black header on an online shop because it is a common colour for the subject but I didn't realise that it may affect user's trust.

Is it recommended to use bright colour ? Have you read any study about that ?

enter image description here

Added on 25/03/2015 Just for comparison, here is a capture of the new design. even if I agree with the fact that black colour is not enough to affect user trust, I think a brighter header is definitely more soothing

enter image description here

  • 7
    Why do you think it would affect a user's trust? (not saying it wouldn't just interested in why you think it might.). Also standard comment: This seems like a very clear case for multivariate testing- it's hard to know how your customers will react to your shop in the context of that community. (It looks fine to me)
    – edeverett
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 13:59
  • Actually this idea has been pushed by an "usability expert" who suggest that I should change the header color of the website because it has a negative connotation for users.
    – Renaud
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 14:11
  • 3
    Follow the audit trail. You've been given information, so try to trace it to its roots for the evidence that supports the idea. Not saying there is or isn't anything in it, just proposing that a review of the evidence may help determine it's relevance to your particular scenario. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 14:17
  • thinkgeek.com is a successful online shop that always has dark colour headers.
    – Franchesca
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 14:36
  • 1
    Stack Exchange sites have a black header now, and people seem to trust them just fine.
    – Brian
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 15:31

4 Answers 4


The instinct of whether to trust a site is affected by many different things, some of them conscious, some not.

The decision of whether to trust will not be based entirely upon colour. There will be a multitude of cues that will help or hinder trust!

Let's say that like in your example, the branding and colours used on the site are very much in tune with the product being displayed (as in your screenshot). This creates continuity, harmony and balance - a few (of many) precursors for trust.

If you changed the colour to something else, you create separation, conflict and disparity, some (of many) precursors for distrust.

So whether or not you find evidence that says 'dark colours do not promote trust', you have to consider the relevance of that evidence to the scenario in which the research was carried out, against the relevance of the colour to your actual scenario.

A few subsequent questions are then:

  • Was your choice of dark colour for a good reason?
  • Does that reason help engage your users?
  • Does the effect overpower any evidence you may find for dark colours creating distrust?

And if the answers are yes:

  • Does it matter what you find out?
  • Are you actually going to do anything about it anyway?
  • Just how bad does the evidence have to be in order to get you to change the colour to another scheme?
  • What other colour are you going to use?
  • Is it better to use red or yellow just because it makes people happy?
  • Is that a better reason than the reason you chose black?
  • Are the compromises that come with changing the colour better or worse than the compromises you make by keeping the black?
  • 1
    I especially agree with being "in tune with the product". The site has, except the pure user interaction design, an overall user experience to take into consideration - in most cases the feeling the product, or the organisation wants to communicate to the user. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 14:51
  • To add onto this; in laymens terms, if a site has bright colors and the web design is horrid, I am not going to trust that site. On the contrary if it has a really dark theme, but the web design is very well laid out, then the website is most likely going to have my trust
    – n00b
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 18:40
  • I really agree with this answer. It's not so much about the specific color you chose, but about the overall Graphic Design of your site. If you used a black background for the entire page, it creates a color imbalance that doesn't look as professional. Same if it was a bright color - or if the text had a color similar to the background color. They are just bad graphic design choices which look less professional - which to me means not as trust-worthy. That being said, I think the site in the image is fine. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 20:41

I depends on your target users, and the context you are using it in. There are no hard and fast rules about a specific colour being bad. For example, a dark colour for the website of a supermarket chain might give people pause for thought, but be perfectly fine for a site like thinkgeek.

  • Blue - Tends to be used to indicate corporate websites, or online banking sites. Generally thought to make a site feel more "professional".
  • Green / Brown / Earthy - Used to indicate some kind of "down to earth" or environmentally friendly vibe. Often used to indicate organic or "natural" products are for sale.
  • Black - Adolescents start to prefer darker / less childish colours as they age. Can be associated with teenage rebellion, or with computer nerd types (dark screen white text).
  • Red - Exciting and attention grabbing (should probably use sparingly in a website).
  • Orange / Yellow - Cheap and cheerful
  • Purple - Used now by people wanting to be "a little bit different" (perceived rarity of the colour possible going back to the expense / rarity of the pigment)

In this particular case it looks like you are targeting the HEMA market (Historical European Martial Arts), and as someone who regularly buys this stuff I think black is bang on for your target market.

  • 3
    computer nerd types prefer dark screen green text ...
    – user40156
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 6:14
  • @vaxquis Looking around my office, all the computer nerd types here have configured their consoles / IDEs incorrectly. I'll let them know ;)
    – Franchesca
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 8:31
  • 2
    @vaxquis What's wrong with amber on black all of a sudden?
    – user
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 11:42
  • chuckle @Michael Kjorling good point, mate, good point...; @Franchesca they indeed have; any computer nerd that used a TTY computer terminal in the past knows that green and amber on black are the top of absolute geeky nerdyness - also, see superuser.com/questions/49633/…
    – user40156
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 13:58

A black website isn't a bad thing and I do not believe it will affect users' trust. I did a little research to verify my answers and I could find no articles that supported an argument for black negating a users trust. Most articles define black as a color that is used for luxury products. It also is used commonly for impulse buys. You can see the details of color and purchasing broken down in this handy dandy info-graphic.

So trust really isn't the issue. The question becomes are you using the right color to influence your target market to make a purchase.


I'm currently doing a usability study for a site that has a very dark color palette (mostly black) and the participants have all been remarking how they like the design. So no, color palette alone is not going to make your site untrustworthy.

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