In designing my soon-to-be-released web application, I pondered for a while over what colour background to use. A trivial concern you may think, but I am aware of the potential it has to affect the way your site is perceived.

My obvious initial assumption was that I would go for a white background. When aiming for simplicity and elegance, the white-backgrounded site seems to be ubiquitous. See Google, MyBlogLog, Riffs,YouTube, Amazon, etc.

Alternatively, there are sites using coloured backgrounds effectively: The Best Stuff in the World, Lingr,Joopz etc.

The audience I want to appeal to is largely comprised of non-technical women. So my thinking goes: a plain white background often has a clinical feel to it, that tends to be great for appealing to men, but less so women. However, I don’t want my site to feel explicitly feminine, so that rules out pinks and other overtly womanly colours. Instead, I wanted something soft, using pastel colours that appealed to women. My conclusion thus was to go for the soft blue-green colour that I have also used as the background to this blog. It’s a colour I viewed as reminiscent of tropical waters, of mermaid tails, of twilight skies: surely this is imagery that conveys relaxation, feminine energy, and enticing adventures? It happens to also be my favourite colour… half my wardrobe and shoe collection is made up of teal-coloured items. I acknowledge this is a very self-centred decision-making process, but then, aren’t so many business decisions politically or egotistically driven? At least I’m admitting this from the outset, right? 🙂

So it came as a surprise when I shared my website HTML designs with a few select friends and family members to find everyone didn’t agree with me! One friend was encouraging and positive, but admitted that personally, she didn’t like the blue-green background as she thought it was a bit corporate. My mother, bless her, said it looked a bit washed out to her.

Notwithstanding this valued feedback, I think I will persevere with my colour choice. At this early stage, I am cautious of changing my designs dramatically based on the feedback of few. My intention is to be very encouraging of user feedback once my site launches, and make an assessment of how the design is perceived by users at that stage. I am open to the possibility that the site design may need to change post-launch. However, there are so many sites out there that are popular and usable despite their less than ideal design: MySpace is by far the most obvious example. It is possible that users will grow to love a less than perfect design if it does everything else passionately and exceptionally. So, for now, my plan is to follow my intuition and my learnings gleaned from other sites and blogs, and use a colour scheme that excites and inspires me, because at this stage anyway, the success of the business depends on how much I love the site I’m building.

What are your thoughts? Do you hate the colour?