The psychology of choosing a color scheme for your website

I was reading (as I’m sure many of you do, too) Neil Patel’s blog earlier today when I came across this interesting article about the psychology of choosing a color scheme for your blog or website. I quite like reading articles that go into psychology, because while I doubt they’re applicable to everyone, everywhere, I usually find something of value in them (unless they’re truly terrible).

Most of Neil’s article was very interesting, and I liked spending time thinking about how color schemes affect the way my readers feel when they’re on my site. I don’t want anyone to get distracted by a jarring or stark color scheme and I do sometimes wonder if my black-and-white format is too harsh for my usual content.

I found his take on the “color wheel” (part-way down that article, looks like a flower) and at first I was interested, then I felt I just had to disagree with the “meanings” assigned to color. Purple, for instance was associated with revulsion. It’s my favorite color, so of course, I don’t feel revulsion when I see purple. According to the color wheel Neil had posted, the exact shade of orange which is part of his own branded color scheme, was a color which evoked mixture of vigilance and rage. It just doesn’t add up, does it?
I decided to search for some more interpretations of how color affects people, and I found these:

This one has been done phenomenologically and it’s sounding very authoritative but it has no evidence on which it’s based its conclusions, which appears to be an endemic problem in this topic.

This article from Entrepreneur.com has a good summary of the debates surrounding the psychology of colour and highlights the need for more evidence.
There is no doubt that color plays a huge part in buying behavior in marketing, but no-one seems able to agree on which colors are best to do what.

Personally? I think the most important thing is to use a color scheme that goes together properly. The color blender color matching tool often gives surprising results, but overall I think it works very well. In some instances, the coloring might be obvious (this erotica author’s writing site, for example, is themed monochrome and pink, and it’s easy to tell that it’s a steamy romance author’s site with exciting books) but in other cases, the role of color is ambiguous and complicated.

Different colors mean different things to different people, but we can associate color schemes or sets of colors with the things we know they represent – for example, fire is orange, water is blue, so is sky. If we see those colors, with other associated colors (orange with brown for the logs on the fire or black for coals, and grey for smoke, for example) it will definitely ensure people make links between a brand and a concept or thing.

I have no idea how to apply any of this to Delight and Inspire, but it’s been interesting to research how other people have thought about the psychology of color.
Isn’t color theory fascinating?

This post was scheduled; I’ll reply to comments tomorrow ūüôā

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Brexit: You have doomed us all.

So I haven’t really said a huge amount about the big important referendum that took place yesterday. ¬†I woke up this morning (it’s currently 7:49am here) to check the results, confident that, despite all the alleged posturing etc of the “remain campaign,” that the “leave campaign” didn’t stand a snowball’s chance of winning. ¬†I thought they’d maybe get 20% of votes.

Nope.

They won.

They actually won.

Apparently I live in a racist, xenophobic country that is more interested in getting foreigners deported than remaining a part of the EU.

To put it into perspective for my American readers, it would be like if Texas was sick of all the Mexicans and decided to quit the United States.

You might say, “whatever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m not in Texas.” ¬†No, but I am, I am stuck in Texas that wants to leave the USA. ¬†Only I can’t just leave because of border control.

I genuinely don’t know what to do – I think this time, I’m going to have to emigrate. ¬†I have a cheque from US Amazon which I now can’t put in the bank as the exchange rate is so bad – it’s plummeted. ¬†My latest book is selling really well (but also pays in USD). ¬†All my ways of earning money are now worthless and I’ve got a foreign sounding name in a country of xenophobes who are so desperate to deport foreigners that they’ve voted to leave the EU.

There, also, goes the US-UK tax treaty.  The IRS can now tax me as well as the UK.  I will now pay double tax on my meager earnings.

I am glad I voted remain.  Now, I think I have to vote with my feet and leave the UK before it gets any worse.

Suggestions? Apparently as a writer I will meet the eligibility criteria to emigrate to Canada by next April.

Why Daisy Ridley shouldn’t play Lara Croft.

So I saw yesterday that apparently Daisy Ridley is in talks to play Lara Croft. Because, y’know, she’s got brown hair and has been filmed running around.

daisy ridley
Daisy Ridley will not make a good Lara Croft for another 10 years or so.

When are the people making Tomb Raider movies going to get it through their thick skulls that they are doing it wrong? They just keep repeating the same mistakes. ¬†I’ve seen a lot of changes since I started¬†following the Tomb Raider franchise in 1996, but this is utterly ridiculous.

Lara is English. She should be played by an English actress, they’ve got as¬†far as working that out. However, there’s plenty of English actresses other than Daisy Ridley.¬†They can run around and point guns at stuff just as well as American women, it’s not a “talent” that’s unique to Daisy. Not only that, but any English actress will be able to point out anachronisms in the script “we don’t usually eat that food, we don’t actually say that phrase” etc.

The main issue is that Lara is 29 in the first game. Twenty. Nine. ¬†She gets older as time goes on. ¬†Her official date of birth was February 14th, 1967 until the marketers stepped in and de-aged her. ¬†Because, y’know, women aren’t allowed to age, we hit 25 then they rewind and rewrite the history and get a new actress to play the part, redesign the video game character, all that jazz. ¬†But Lara started out as 29 and she aged 1 year in every subsequent game up to Tomb Raider Chronicles (Tomb Raider 5) where it gets a bit confused due to her being thought dead. ¬†Of course, women stop ageing when they’re believed to be dead and it was implied (but never stated) that the clock rewound at some point because Angelina Jolie was too young when she played Lara.¬† Why make the same mistake again?

Hiring someone who is 23 but looks 16 isn’t going to make a great Tomb Raider movie. She needs some gravitas. ¬†If you don’t understand this, think about an analogy – would you hire a 23 year old actor to play James Bond? It’s exactly the same. ¬†The role of James Bond generally goes to someone aged in their very late thirties or early forties, and they play him through their forties and sometimes into their fifties. ¬†Lara has life experience, she’s supposed to be laid back and a bit sassy, and (here’s the really important part) in her original bio, she was completely self made. She got disinherited and EARNED her money from writing travel books. You need time to establish that sort of money.

In order to win the all-important over-21 female audience, you are going to need to give them something inspirational, instead of sending the message out (yet again) that women’s lives are over at 25 and they’ve peaked. ¬†The reason Lara did so well with the female demographic in the first place (in the video games, and she really did) is because it was the first time we’d had a character like that; older, smart, physically active, totally independent AND didn’t feel the need to look like a man to make it in the world (but wasn’t frilly and uber feminine either). ¬†Give us Lara Croft at her actual age with someone who can really get inside the character, and I promise you, it’ll do MUCH better than whatever you’ve got planned.

Lara’s physical appearance is wrong for Daisy Ridley. Her hair is a medium brown (and in the original games she had a henna rinse). Angelina Jolie’s hair was nearly black. What’s the point in them making such a big fuss about¬†the physical characteristics such as boobs and waist, and then consistently getting the hair wrong?

The marketing geniuses behind the Tomb Raider films seems to think that tokenistic Britishisms and the right costume are all they need, and that they should just throw it at some popular-today actress. They probably don’t understand why Cradle of Life flopped. Lena Headey would be the ideal Lara Croft in every way shape and form. ¬†If they need more suggestions,¬†Keira Knightley¬†would be a MUCH better choice than Daisy Ridley; her face¬†looks exactly right and she is a good age to play Lara convincingly, or how about Emilia Clarke (who also played Sarah Connor), these¬†are¬†fantastic English actresses who could really do the role some justice. ¬†If they consider¬†hiring an American actress (given my reservations outlined above), they should be looking in the direction of Angelina Goddamn Jolie. Really they need someone over 30 with enough life experience to actually make a credible Lara Croft, and maybe some experience in a similar role. ¬†The only obvious reason I can think of for why they’re not considering Keira Knightley is boob size. ¬†And that’s a¬†disgraceful excuse.

Actress Knightley poses as she arrives for the European premiere of the film "The Imitation Game" at the BFI opening night gala at Leicester Square in London
Keira Knightley is the right age and she has the right appearance to play Lara Croft.
lena headey
Lena Headey would make a MUCH better Lara Croft than Daisy Ridley.

Lara Croft is Sarah Connor without kids. She’s not some petulant and 2-dimensional little girl who lives off daddy’s money and got into daddy’s gun cupboard. If you look at the original bio before it all got sanitized and changed to fit the films, the conflict between Lara and her parents (and getting disinherited) is what drives her to be so independent. Without it, you’ve just got an uber-wealthy spoilt brat running around third world countries damaging old stuff. Not only that, but she’s supposed to be tongue in cheek, like James Bond or Indiana Jones. ¬†She has balls.

Characterization is where they went badly wrong with the first two films – they just didn’t understand the character when they wrote the script, turned her into some laughable idea of British Upper Class and, while the first film pulled through due to canny marketing and product deals, the second one flopped. Nobody even knew when it was out because all the advertising posters didn’t have the date on them.

They need to return to the original character concept – it worked for Batman, there you have a strong body of evidence that the modern audience wants authenticity, not some popular-culture influenced, re-styled version of the original idea. It doesn’t need to appeal to 14 year olds, it needs to appeal to twenty-and-thirty-somethings who own action figures, because the rest of the market will follow where they lead when it comes to things like this, and they will determine whether the film becomes a classic or is totally forgotten in a year’s time. ¬†It all starts with hiring the right actress to play Lara Croft.

Marketers aren’t usually this stupid. They know how the audience thinks and they know how to market things. If they’re hiring Daisy Ridley for this, there’s something wider going on here – they want it to fail. Why? Because if they can’t reboot Tomb Raider then it’s proof positive that consumers don’t want female action heroes. Ghostbusters was a shockingly fake nod to “diversity” and following it up the next year with a terrible Tomb Raider movie will really turn public opinion against female action protagonists. Which means they can get back in the kitchen and bake cakes instead.

Edit: To reflect Lena Headey’s nationality, I have amended this article. ¬†She really is the ultimate Lara Croft.

Want more about my Lara Croft obsession? Tutorial: Three classic Lara hairstyles.

No-One Wants To Know The Real Truth About Parabens

Parabens. It’s seen as a dirty word amongst the “natural beauty” movement and the “mainstream” cosmetics industry is trying its best to ignore it, right? Because of parabens, many people are spending more money than ever on cosmetics and personal care products to avoid those scary-sounding paraben ingredients.

Today I want to step (mostly) aside from the quibble over whose scientific paraben research was more inaccurate, to examine the bigger question; who really benefits from the fears surrounding parabens?

To get at the answer, we need to do some digging. You may have noticed the unbelievable number of very expensive “natural beauty” paraben-free organic natural companies that have sprung up over the past couple of years. They charge you an arm and a leg for beautifully coloured, luxuriously scented containers of goop with names such as “thermal spa minerals bath elixir” “cleansing water mist” and “nourishing body souffle.”

Paraben free products are not necessarily being marketed by ethical companies.

Okay, so some of you are thinking “what is going on? Has she been paid to say this?”

I am an independent researcher, sitting at home writing this, and I look at all the information I can get my hands on and I base my conclusion on the information I find.

Here’s some things you need to know about the people telling you to avoid parabens:

1. The “natural beauty” companies who are selling the paraben free products are operating on a much higher profit margin than conventional companies. It doesn’t cost them more money to avoid putting an ingredient in a product because they’re not replacing parabens with something else that costs more. Here’s an analogy: Think of a cake, if you made a cake without chocolate powder, so it was a plain flavoured cake, would it cost you more to make that cake, or a cake which used chocolate powder? When all the other ingredients stayed the same, the chocolate cake would cost more to make. So why is the plain cake costing so much more to buy? Why are the paraben free products costing up to ten times more than their paraben-containing counterparts? It’s very profitable to make paraben-free products.

2. The “big beauty companies” that some sensationalist self-styled “health journalists” are criticizing? Most of them are benefiting from the paraben myth in some way. Here’s a list of well-known beauty companies who have at least one product that they’re marketing as paraben free:

Clarins, Clinique, Ojon, Pureology (and by extension, L’Oreal), Dead Sea Spa, Aveda, Morrocan Oil, Vaseline, Revlon, Dr Organic, Physician’s Formula, Burt’s Bees, Bare Escentuals (and Bare Minerals), L’Occitane, Origins.

This is where the biggest money behind the anti-paraben hype is overtly coming from, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only people making megabucks from scaring you away from parabens.

3. A lot of the smaller start-up companies (such as all the new startup sellers of natural, paraben-free, organic, very expensive products) don’t have to list their board of directors or key shareholders, particularly if they’re not floated on the stock exchange or aren’t incorporated. This means that, to start a smaller start-up company that makes big bucks from the current “natural beauty” craze, a larger company can finance it for a share of the profits, guide product development and marketing, then step back and let the smaller company turn a profit – who then repay a percentage of that to the larger company. We’ve seen this time and again on Dragon’s Den, you think they’re the only people doing it? Everyone in business with investment capital is doing it! If the smaller company goes bankrupt (such as “organic skincare” company Davina Peace… they had a waiting list of clients when they launched in 2010. You can find Davina Peace halfway down this list of insolvent companies in administration in 2012, along with the date of insolvency), the larger company washes their hands of the whole thing because it was nothing to do with them. If anything, they end up on the list of creditors (people owed money). If and when the current “natural skincare” craze ends, and the consumers start looking for something else, the larger company comes out of this beauty trend totally unscathed, with their reputation in tact when everyone goes back to buying “normal” stuff again. It is impossible to know behind the scenes who is financing and guiding these companies. It is impossible to know if any company is truly independent because corporate accounting strategies are inscrutable. Smaller companies are less accountable than larger ones.

4. You know whose products still contain parabens? The Body Shop! They’re an independent company not affiliated to any others, they are all about “natural” skincare and beauty, but their products are still packed with parabens. Why? Because they want to kill you? Uh, reality check, if cosmetics companies kill their customers, who’s going to be left alive to buy cosmetics? They use parabens because the evidence for the current paraben-noia is flimsy, it all comes from studies where at least one of the same people were involved, they all use very small sample sizes (the latest one, the one that “proves” parabens are dangerous? 40 participants. ¬†All in Britain. That’s 0.0000000006% of the world’s population (or 0.000000012% of the population of America). And the researcher was forced to conclude that parabens are “only part of the bigger picture” which is scientist speak for “I’ve spent nearly a decade of my life barking up the wrong tree.” Why was this conclusion made? Well 7 of the 40 participants didn’t even use any cosmetics in the underarm area, so they weren’t getting any parabens from those products and yet the tissue samples still contained parabens. No deodorant, no body lotion… do you know anyone who doesn’t use any deodorant, any lotion, anything at all under their arms, who ALSO wears face cream or make-up? Who bathes regularly?? I don’t. These things tend to come in groups – people who don’t use deodorant (including natural ones) or body lotion tend not to use other products. Such as shower gel. And that’s if we totally ignore her first study on the effect of parabens, published in January 2004, which had a sample of twenty participants (also in Britain) and didn’t have a control group (a group of people who didn’t have cancer, or who didn’t use parabens, for example, to check if their paraben level was the same), which is the study everyone keeps misquoting.

5. Research is driven by funding. ¬†Without funding, people don’t research things. ¬†Every job in science has to be paid for and accounted for. ¬†Researchers have to justify why they need money in most fields. ¬†By studying parabens, an oncologist (for example) would no longer need to depend on funding from public health bodies (such as the nearly-bankrupt British NHS, Britain being the country where all of the¬†research on parabens was carried out by the same lead author) or charities specialising in cancer research, and instead, that researcher could open up a huge avenue of funding for the university they work for, from cosmetics companies (or subsidiary research institutes funded by straw-man companies funded by cosmetics companies) who stand to gain from the results – if those results mean they can sell more paraben-free products. ¬†Additionally, these big companies don’t require the results to be very rigorous (unlike health organizations) as long as they’re sensational.¬†¬†Just like the beauty blogger who sells her scruples for a free mascara, the researcher claims that “all opinions are my own” although in science-speak, that’s “the research method was robust.” ¬†For good measure, the researcher could get other people they know to peer-review it (everyone in the same field knows each other). ¬†This is sadly how a lot of corporate-relevant scientific research is being done nowadays – fund a university, they can claim they’re independent, the company might even guide the university’s researchers about sharing the results with the world to get maximum impact but because it came from a university lab, we believe every word as infallible. ¬†This is how many people get a PhD these days! ¬†It all depends how financially malleable the researchers are, but there are¬†hints that this¬†happens all over academia, especially in the research areas most relevant to the pharmaceutical, nutritional and cosmetics industries. ¬†If the research had showed parabens were not implicated in cancer, the cosmetics companies would gain less overall. ¬†When was the last time a newspaper ran a story that said “fresh broccoli doesn’t cause cancer” (for example)? ¬†It doesn’t sell products.

Cashing In

So what, exactly am I trying to say, and who do I think I am that I can say this? Just like animal testing, the truth behind these “natural beauty” companies is surrounded by a mystique of obfuscation, corporate financial backing and bad science… which makes them no better than the regular cosmetics companies. I wrote this because I value honesty and I was compelled to show that you don’t need to spend large amounts of money on “paraben free” products. These companies are cashing in on our biggest fears.

I think that in order to really get to the heart of¬†the paraben issue, we’ve got to examine why we react so strongly to allegations that products are dangerous: Fear.

The Role Of Fear

We fear cancer more than anything else because we feel powerless, most of us know someone who has died of cancer. Breast cancer is terrifying because we don’t know why some people get it and others don’t. We don’t know why cancer seems to be getting more common than ever before. Personally, I believe it’s down to processed food; I think there’s something about all those condiments, sauces, ready meals and so on. But that doesn’t net an attention grabbing headline, that’s never going to produce viral content, so nobody writes about it or researches it for long because they can’t get funding. ¬†Research is driven by funding – especially at universities. ¬†Who funds research? ¬†Companies who stand to gain from it!

Look at the recent evidence linking bacon to cancer. What was the public’s response? Oh, I love bacon, I’m never going to stop eating bacon! It hardly made the news for a week before disappearing! These are the same people avoiding cigarettes and parabens! The reason I wanted the world to know what fuels the paraben myth is because people think that if they avoid parabens they get some kind of points, that they can then use to smoke, drink and eat bacon. It doesn’t work like that. The things you eat, drink and smoke are the real culprits here.

Japanese women have a lower incidence of breast cancer than anyone else in the world because of their diet. Tokyo is a very polluted urban environment; have you ever been there? Huge skyscrapers, people’s living space is tiny, ventilation is complicated, and yet those women are getting breast cancer less often than women living in the Great Plains. Do Japanese women use parabens? Of course they do! They may use some “traditional Japanese” products, but when was the last time you used a “traditional” product of your own nationality? The only traditional English beauty product I use is rosewater from the supermarket (the stuff in the beauty shop is full of alcohol – which DOES cause cancer when ingested), and if I’m honest, I don’t use it as often as I should.

By avoiding parabens, consumers are being given a false sense of control, a false sense of security, a false sense of everything’s fine. Clearly, everything is not fine. Vegetarians and meat eaters are getting cancer at similar rates. Natural organic homeopaths are getting cancer at the same rate as people using branded products full of parabens and “chemicals.” The lie is that we are safe if we avoid parabens and other molecules labeled as “nasties.” We are not safe. None of us are. That’s the truth about parabens: You can avoid any ingredient with more than ten letters in the name as much as you like, it’s not going to help you. All this is doing is letting the real culprits get away with murder for longer while the cosmetics companies get even richer than ever from people’s fear.

Cosmetics companies are experts in using fear to sell products – fear of looking old, fear of really being old… those anti-ageing creams are cashing in on people’s fear of mortality. Fear of being ugly, of not looking attractive… make-up cashes in on people’s fear of being alone, people’s fear of rejection. The cosmetics industry has a long track record of subtly using fear to motivate women to buy their products. I’m not telling you to start buying products full of parabens, or to stop buying cosmetics; you should look how you want to, but you need to be aware of the truth about parabens. Avoiding parabens is not going to save you. We will all get old. We will all be alone sometimes. We will all die one day. And that’s the real truth about parabens. ¬†It’s a shame¬†everyone’s so busy being scared of parabens to understand what’s really at play here.

We may experience some technical difficulties

Invoke Delight is moving to http://www.delightandinspire.com

When I started this blog I wanted it to be called inspire delight, but that domain was taken by an online lighting store. ¬†In May 2015, inspire delight was bought up by someone claiming to have been blogging since 2010. ¬†Clearly not, since she has filled out three or four pages (all dated between 19-21 May 2015) then got bored and not bothered again. ¬†But she had time to configure an online shop… go figure.

In the meantime, I bought up invokedelight.com back in November 2014 and had numerous problems with GoDaddy refusing to let me uninstall their really awful “website builder” and connect a WordPress.org plugin instead, including many, many emails back and forth, before I finally capitulated and registered for WordPress.com instead, leaving invokedelight.com as a redirect to this site.

In November 2015, invokedelight.com expired, and I got an email (actually several) telling me that if I didn’t pay renewal to GoDaddy, they were going to de-register it and after that, that it would cost hundreds of dollahs for me to restore my site. ¬†I was looking forward to this happening because then the site would be purged from the domain name, and I could buy it again through WordPress and finally achieve my goal of making this blog invokedelight.com.

It’s the end of January. ¬†GoDaddy claims InvokeDelight.com is owned by someone else. ¬†But the domain registrar lookup claims InvokeDelight.com is owned by GoDaddy.

Registry rules state that an expired site should be held by the registrar (GoDaddy) for 4 weeks plus five days before releasing it back to general sale. ¬†It’s well over that time now – invokedelight.com expired on 17th November 2015 – so I can only assume that GoDaddy are holding onto it because they want me to pay the hundreds of dollahs.

Me being independent and contrary, I decided to brainstorm site names for this site and check what was available.  All the invoke delight -derived names just looked really shit so I checked some inspire delight names (they were all taken in November 2014 but I wanted to see if any had expired).

Delight and Inspire had expired so I aspired to purchase it.

Over the next 72 hours there may be some technical problems as WordPress gets it working, then it should start to redirect. ¬†If you’re subscribed via WordPress (less than 2% of my viewers), it shouldn’t affect you being able to find my site. ¬†If you use Feedly or another RSS reader (I use Feedly) you may have to “add new” and put http://www.delightandinspire.com into your subscriptions so you don’t lose me!

Google and WordPress should handle the re-indexing of the site so all my hard-earned SEO results keep bringing people to the right place.

My Youtube Channel will remain Invoke Delight and so will my Twitter handle @invokedelight and email invokedelight@gmail.com because they don’t let you change such things without signing up for a whole new Gmail and Twitter account.

Once it’s all sorted it’s going to be LEGEN (wait for it… ) … … ¬†… … DARY!