What happens when you change the background color of your blog?
Readership: Anyone interested
The last post investigated how site branding had affected the popularity of the Σ Frame blog. This post will focus specifically on the impact of the background theme color.
What affects viewership?
As a brief review, there are several things that have the potential to affect viewership.
- Content of posts
- Length of posts
- Posting frequency
- Username or avatar name
- Banner image
- Background theme color
- Use of images within posts
I already covered the first five aspects mentioned above. Factors 1 to 3 were listed in the 2019 Sigma Frame Performance Report (2020 January 4). Factors 4 and 5 were discussed in the last post, On the Impact of Appearance and Avatar (2020 January 5). So in this post we’ll look at the impact of 6, the theme color.
Sometime in October 2018, I decided to experiment with a new site appearance. At first, I made only a modest modification by changing the background color to Black Cherry, and then Prussian blue, simply because these are my favorite colors. By the middle of November 2018, I changed the background color to a dark Royal/Navy blue, which is shown below.
This is the same graph of the monthly performance from the previous post. The range is from when I opened the account on WordPress in late September 2017, to early January 2020.
Between December 2017 to September 2018, the average number of views was 3,000 per month. Then a surge in views began in October 2018, when I started swapping background colors. The viewership rose and then held fairly constant for one year, until October 2019. During this period between October 2018 to September 2019, the average number of views was 5,092 per month. That’s a 69.6% increase!
It’s clear both factors had a synergistic effect. The question is, which factor had the most significant effect on views — the background color, which was changed in October 2018 and had a 39% increase from the previous month, or the banner image, which was introduced in November 2018 and resulted in a 25.2% increase from the previous month? It’s hard to be certain. Other cofactors exist, and there’s not enough data to do a statistical analysis. But it could be concluded that the theme color had a bigger impact than the site branding! And the difference was only a change from black to dark blue!
Personally, I believe the theme color is the major contributor, for reasons to be described next.
A Note about the Impact of Color
Have you ever noticed how Facebook, Line, Linked In, Twitter, WordPress, and many other popular websites have blue themes? It’s no accident. Those sites intentionally chose blue as the background color, because gazing at this color is known to increase alertness and decrease appetite. As a result, the theme color is extremely important factor in determining the length of time that viewers spend on a website. This might also explain why these sites have grown to be more popular than their competitor sites that do not have a blue theme.
I briefly mentioned this effect in a previous post, LED Light and Your Eyes (2016 April 1), which examined how the light from electronic displays affects mood and sleep cycles. If this information seems new to you, then you should read this post to be better informed about how to protect your eyes and regulate your circadian rhythms.
There is one particular color which has been shown to wake us up, and it happens to be the same color as the sky. I might guess this to be an adaptation of our species.
The sky appears blue because of Rayleigh scattering and the wavelength-specific optical absorption of water vapor. Simply put, our atmosphere absorbs blue light the least of all other visible colors, such that more blue light is transmitted to the surface of the earth. The color of a blue sky has been estimated to be 474 nm (peak). (Click on the link for a very scientific answer to the question, Why is the sky blue?)
There is a textbook name for this color as well – Azure.
Azure is a bright, cyan-blue color that is often described as the color of the sky on a clear day. On the RGB color wheel, “azure” (hexadecimal #007FFF) is defined as the color at 210 degrees, i.e. the hue halfway between blue and cyan.
On this color palette, azure is instantly recognizable as the color of the sky.
Azure is also instantly recognizable as the color of Facebook. Is it a coincidence?
I am Lord Azure… Look deeply, my Prrrecious source of tax and advertising revenue, and worship me with your time and personal data…
Having this knowledge back at that time, I was tempted to use Azure as the background theme color. But after some reconsideration, I decided a darker blue would be more attractive, and more merciful to my readers, so I chose the Navy blue (#000a5f).
There was also a symbolic reason I chose blue. Blue is a masculine color which symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is often associated with depth, expertise, consciousness, intellect, precision, sincerity, and stability, and this is why it’s a preferred color for corporate America.
Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. It is considered to be beneficial to the mind and body, because it slows human metabolism, suppresses appetite, and produces a calming effect.
For more information on the symbolic meaning and psychosomatic impact of other colors, click here.
I may experiment with a different background color in the future — maybe white or something warmer. I’m open to suggestions.
Note: Current color is #6C111E.
- Σ Frame: 2019 Sigma Frame Performance Report (2020 January 4)