I'm a pianist, composer, and teacher, and I'm building a website to promote myself.

I want the site to convey both a sense of elegance and old-world discipline, but also sleek modernity.

I was going to ask the wonderful experts here what fonts I should try to use, but I realized that's a very subjective question that would probably get closed, so instead I'm asking if there have ever been studies done that have tried to understand how people react to and perceive different fonts (or color schemes, or just any design element I suppose. It's all useful).

Has there ever been work like that done? Are there people out there figuring out exactly what font to use to get people to think you're cutting edge or hard-working? Or have these remained simply subjective design choices?


There have been plenty of work in that area. That's where a majority of a graphic design student's time goes.

Without getting too in-depth, here are a few resources to get you started:

All that being said, it will save you time and money to hire a classically-trained designer to answer a lot of these questions for you. Otherwise, you may be in for a long ride down the rabbit hole of typography, color and design.

  • "clasically-trained", I see what you did there!
    – blaineh
    Apr 15 '14 at 20:34
  • I'd love to hire someone, but I don't have crazy amounts of money, and I am also a wannabe web entrepreneur (feel free to criticize me for being indecisive), so learning how to do things myself is valuable to me.
    – blaineh
    Apr 15 '14 at 20:35
  • Although I would accept advice on how to hire a designer on the cheap :)
    – blaineh
    Apr 15 '14 at 20:36
  • I think you're going about it the right way. Stay curious! :-) Apr 17 '14 at 15:14

Psychological reactions to different colors were studied in multiple studies. In general Yellow and Blue are less "aggressive" than Red. Pastel hues seem to be relaxing as well.

You can try to read abstracts in PubMed, I put here some excerpts from some of them.

  • Child friendly colors in a pediatric dental practice (whole article) -

"The use of child friendly colors like yellow and blue in the dental work place could enhance a positive dental attitude in the child's mind."

  • A note on adults' color-emotion associations (abstract)

"Responses showed that bright colors elicited mainly positive emotional associations, and dark colors elicited mainly negative emotional associations. Women responded more positively than men to bright colors, and they also responded more negatively to dark colors."

  • Children's emotional associations with colors (abstract). "Children had positive reactions to bright colors (e.g., pink, blue, red) and negative emotions for dark colors (e.g., brown, black, gray). Children's emotional reactions to bright colors became increasingly positive with age, and girls in particular showed a preference for brighter colors and a dislike for darker colors. Boys were more likely than girls were to have positive emotional associations with dark colors."

  • Anger as "seeing red": evidence for a perceptual association (abstract) "Two experiments (N = 265) examined whether a red font colour would facilitate anger conceptions, consistent with metaphors referring to anger to "seeing red". Evidence for an implicit anger-red association was robust and emotionally discrete in nature. Further, Experiment 2 examined the directionality of such associations and found that they were asymmetrical: Anger categorisations were faster when a red font colour was involved, but redness categorisations were not faster when an anger-related word was involved."

Probably you want extract "Color psychology: a critical review."

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