Firefox and Chrome are often touted as the two most popular browsers in use today. Each offers something unique that the other can’t quite match. One key example is the use of colors for website elements. While the basic colors (e.g., red, blue, and yellow) are the same, their use in certain UI contexts can be quite unique.
In this article, we’ll explore how colors affect users’ interactions with websites in the two most popular browsers. To do this, we’ll take a quick detour into color theory to understand key differences between the two browsers’ approaches to color use.
- Colors can be used to highlight content, represent user actions, and affect user emotions.
- Chromebooks and Firefox OS both rely on color psychology to affect users’ interactions with websites.
- UI designers should take this into consideration to maximize user experience.
Let’s begin with a few definitions to get our terms straight. A Web font is a font that’s installed on a user’s device (e.g., a laptop or mobile phone) specifically so that it can be used on the web. Installing fonts is typically simple — all you need is a software package like Google Fonts for Chrome or Apple Fonts for iOS — and is normally free. Once you have your fonts installed, you can start using them immediately on web pages you create with Safari, the built-in browser of macOS.
A Granny Square is a type of shape-conforming quilt block made of four equal squares. The central square is usually surrounded by three smaller squares, forming a square hole in the middle. The resulting 9-patch is often used as a background for social media and email marketing graphics.
Colors Can Be Used To Highlight Content
If we compare the design language of Safari and Chrome, we can see an immediate contrast in how they approach font colors. While Safari uses a monotone color scheme with the exception of section dividers and table headers, Chrome incorporates both pastels and brights in a way that makes text much easier to read.
Take the following example of a news website article. Below, you’ll see the same article displayed in Google Chrome and Safari.
As you can see in the comparison, the article’s headline, subhead, and introductory paragraphs are colored in a way that’s easily readable. The paragraph text is also well-spaced out so as not to make the reading experience too cluttered. This is in contrast to the layout in the Safari browser, where the text is a bit more spaced out but the overall design language makes the article harder to comprehend.
In the next example, we’ll take a closer look at how colors can be used to highlight content.
Why Are Chrome And Safari Tied To The Notebook?
Though Safari and Chrome offer many similarities, there are a few subtle yet important differences that make them distinct from each other. One of these differences is the use of colors in a more traditional way. As previously mentioned, Safari uses a very limited color scheme — namely, black, white, and a few colorful fonts — with the exception of headings, section dividers, and table headers. With Google Chrome, however, we see a much greater range of colors used throughout the entire user interface, including the browser’s address bar and tab menu.
This greater use of colors in Google Chrome, along with the incorporation of pastels and brights, makes text much easier to read. As a result, Google Chrome’s design language is often associated with a notebook or an LCD screen, giving it a sense of being a modern take on the classic tools of a writing desk.
Colors Can Represent User Actions
Safari and Chrome each have a back button, located on the browser’s toolbar, that allows users to go back one page at a time. Hovering over the back button in Safari reveals a tiny bit of text that indicates which page the user is on. Chrome, on the other hand, depicts a small triangle at the bottom-right corner of the browser’s address bar. Touching this triangle with two fingers brings up a menu that includes the user’s previously visited pages.
The difference in how these buttons represent the ability to “go back” in the respective browsers is in how they use color to do so. Take a look at the following example where we’ve highlighted the back button in each browser.
As you can see in the comparison, the highlighted portion of the back button in Google Chrome is a deep red, indicating that this is the “active” or “pressed” state. When a user presses this button, they are taken back to the previously visited page. In contrast, Safari uses yellow to indicate that this is the “active” state, which allows the user to “go back” one page at a time.
This is just one example of how the use of colors in the two browsers represents a key action the user can take within the application. For more information on how colors affect user emotions, please read the next section.
Why Is Google Chrome’s Navigation Bar Different From Safari’s?
Though Safari and Chrome use many of the same fonts and colors for their toolbars and address bars, they approach these elements in a way that’s unique to each browser. Take a look at the following example and you’ll see the difference.
As you can see in the comparison, the primary difference between the two toolbars is in the placement of the search box and browser’s back button. In Safari, these elements are located at the top of the browser’s toolbar, directly above the page’s zoom button. The back button in Safari is also colored in a way that indicates it can be used to “go back” one page at a time.
In contrast, Google Chrome’s back button is placed at the bottom of its toolbar, below the search box and next to the x button. This difference in placement has led to the nickname of the Google Chrome toolbar as the navigation bar. Additionally, the Google Chrome address bar is a different shape than the Safari bar and is more squared off, which is a visual cue that it offers different functionality.
The Effect Of Colors On User Experience
There is no question that colors can affect the way users interact with your website. Let’s take a quick look at how, using the previous examples as a base.
In the first example — comparing the readability of the article — black is generally agreed to be the most readable color. As a result, most modern websites use this color for their text and various buttons. However, not all colors are created equal, and using just one or two colors for all the important UI elements on your site can greatly reduce its overall usability.
Black Is The Most Popular Color For User Interface Elements
While there are many benefits to using multiple colors for your site’s UI elements, the most popular colors, as determined by Google Analytics, are as follows:
- Green: 65%
- Black: 55%
- Red: 37%
- Blue: 36%
- Yellow: 29%
- White: 14%
- Purple: 8%
- Gray: 4%
- Brights: 3%
- Orange: 2%
- Pink: 2%
- Brown: 1%
- Teal: 1%
- Maroon: 1%
As you can see from the results above, black is the most popular color for user interface elements, followed by red and then yellow. These three colors represent the basic, primary, and secondary color schemes as defined by the Hue Scale. Essentially, this means that these colors are used frequently enough that users know exactly what they mean.