Design, Web Design

Why is Blue the Internet’s Default Color?

From Facebook to LinkedIn, why is there so much blue on the internet?

Portrait for Dom Hennequin By Dom Hennequin
Posted 09 Jan 2018
blue is the color of the internet

Go Google something. Okay, now, go and check Facebook. Great, okay, now, pop onto Twitter. And, just to seal the deal, take a peek at your LinkedIn.

You know what you just saw a lot of? The color blue.

Blue is the most popular color on the internet by far. But as to why, well, that seems to be up for debate.

The Atmosphere is Blue

One reason might have to do with the atmosphere of the actual world. You know how the sky is blue? That’s a lot of blue we’re seeing every day. And you know how 71 percent of the earth is water, and water is blue? That, too, is a lot of blue we’re seeing every day.

It may, therefore, be argued that although we don’t acknowledge it, blue is a color we’re naturally acclimatized to. And because people want the experience of the internet, and technology to feel familiar, it’s not surprising that blue is so prevalent in digital design.

Blue is the Next Darkest Color to Black

This is the blue Google uses for links on its search results pages.

Blue has long been the go-to color for links. But no one can seem to agree on exactly why, and who made that decision.

Internet folklore traces the popularity of links back to the father of the internet, Sir Tim Berners Lee. Some of the earliest pictures of him that feature links on his computer screen show links colored in blue.

But, Berners Lee, himself, has no memory of deciding on the color as the preferred choice for them. Mostly because when he popularized the practice of hyperlinks, he did it in the era of grayscale screens.

The path, therefore, leads us to Mosaic, an early internet browser, whose creators apparently decided to make blue the default color of links, because it was the color closest to black in its contrast to white, thus making it the next most legible color choice for web pages.

Since then, some shade of blue has been a staple of search results pages, and a color most of us probably see on a daily basis.

So Blue

When Mark Zuckerberg was building Facebook, in the days when he was still working out of a college dorm, the choice to make blue its main color was a no brainer. Mainly, because it wasn’t really a choice.

Zuckerberg is colorblind, unable to see red or green, and so blue is the only color he can fully interpret, which made his decision to make Facebook blue a pretty easy one.

The social network being one of the most popular sites in the world, and surely something most of us look at multiple times a day, has continued the trend of blue being the color we see most often online.

41 shades of blue

Apparently this is your favorite shade of blue. How do I know? Well, nearly a decade ago, Google, which was not exactly considered a purveyor of design, had an inconsistency.

Its homepage featured a button that used one shade of blue, and Gmail featured a button that used another.

They decided to standardize the shade they were using, but which blue were they going to choose?

To find out, they ran a bunch of user tests, testing a number of shades of blue that were almost imperceptibly different. How many blues? 41 to be exact.  

As is talked about in the biography, Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, this story has become something of a legend. A tech company, and a manager, who, rather than trusting the gut of their designers, used data to make a design decision.

I’m not saying it’s good or bad. But, what I am saying is that the winning blue has been one of Google’s main colors ever since.

The Most Popular Color on the Internet

In 2016, designer Paul Hebert did an analysis of the ten most popular sites on the internet, according to Alexa.com, and scraped data about the colors they were using. What he found wasn’t super surprising. The most popular color by far is blue.

Perhaps it is because the sky and sea are blue. Perhaps it’s because one influential person just decided he or she liked the color blue. Whatever the truth is of its origin, blue is the internet, and indeed, the entire world of design’s default color.

It can be inoffensive.

In your face.

Buttoned up and professional.

Cold and alienating.

Vibrant and fresh.

And, algorithmically correct.

The color blue is many things. But more than anything else, it is the most popular color on the internet.

Top 10 Blue Backgrounds

Here are ten beautiful blue backgrounds you can download right now with Envato Elements, our curated subscription to the best assets in design.

1. Blue Polygon Backgrounds by themefire

Using the generative art style, this set of 3D geometric backgrounds uses a rich royal blue that's warm and inviting. 

2. Space Starscape Backgrounds Vol. 2 by M-e-f

A collection of beautiful space themed backgrounds featuring different shades of a blue night sky, and glistening stars.

3. Deep Space Backgrounds by M-e-f

A wider, darker collection of illustrations of deep space. This features deeper blues, purple and a range of other colors.

4. Corporate | Geometric Motion Backgrounds | Vol. 02 by devotchkah

This pack of corporate geometric backgrounds includes this inoffensive, professional blue. 

5. Flat Bubbles | Colorful Backgrounds | Vol. 01 by devotchkah

This beautiful collection of flat bubble backgrounds gives you delightful options like this one, featuring friendly, or bubbly, if you will, shades of blue.

6. Curly Backgrounds by devotchkah

A set of unique, tiled swirls in different colors including this understated, earthy blue. 

7. Light Particles Backgrounds by mamounalbibi

A fresh design following the concept of an explosion of particles. It features an understated, but warm blue in the background, with a lighter blue coloring the particles. 

8. Motion Abstract Backgrounds by mamounalbibi

A really slick, abstract pattern. Featuring, dark and light tones of blue, against a navy and black background. 

9. Waves | Colorful Backgrounds by devotchkah

And finally, some bright, friendly blues in the form of playful waves make up this pack of inviting backgrounds. 

10. Watercolor Texture Blue by cornercroft

A hand painted watercolor blue texture including 10 rectangle shapes and 10 strokes.

For more blue background, subscribe to Envato Elements.

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