Cymbolism: The Color of Language

By Josh Catone

Cymbolism is a really cool new experimental web site that, in its own words, “attempts to quantify the association between colors and words, making it simple for designers to choose the best colors for the desired emotional effect.” It does that by asking visitors to match words to the colors they evoke and then charting the results.

When visiting the site, users are confronted with a word, which is defined for them, as well as a block of 19 basic colors and asked to click on the color that the word makes them most think about. Right now, the site has 178 words in its database (visitors can suggest new ones) and has recorded nearly 250,000 votes.

Each word gets a page that breaks out the results using colored frequency strips to display votes from the past 7 days, 30 days, year, and all time (the latter two being the same for now since the site has only been operation a couple of months).

Cymbolism could be an invaluable tool for designers trying to pick color schemes that match a concept. How do you use color to make your web site communicate summer fun, for example? According to Cymbolism, use red, pink or yellow for fun, and a shade of yellow or green for summer.

The experiment reminds us of Brand Tags, which asks people to match words or phrases to corporate logos and then creates a tag cloud based on the responses.

Found via information aesthetics.

  • We’re putting together a color scheme for our site now. I’m giving this a test-drive. Thanks, Josh.

  • raustin

    Interesting concept… I’ll give it a shot too.

  • Silver Firefly

    I’m not all that keen on it to be honest – most of the words aren’t particularly emotion-provoking so it kind of defeats the purpose.

  • solas

    From my testing I seem to be quite an average robot….err I mean human.

    Most of my clicks are in the majority.

    I think it’s a very interesting project and has serious potential based on the fact that data will be generated for them.

  • randywehrs

    The concept definitely has potential, but I don’t get much emotion from any of the colors, except the feeling of immaturity; the colors are all too primary! I feel like I’m picking colors for my q-basic game…

  • I have to agree with Randy. The colors are very limited and far too primary.

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