What different colors mean in different countries

May 18, 2009

Color — and how its interpretation varies from culture to culture — is one of the elements I discuss in my presentation on reviewing user interfaces.

Xerox have an International  Color Guide page on their website that lists several countries. Clicking on each country’s name shows how that country views certain colors. For example, white in Colombia is a favorable color, whereas in New Zealand it can mean surrender; in India white means chastity and purity; in China — mourning; and in the US, white means purity, holiness, and innocence, among others.

While the list of countries is not extensive, this section of the Xerox website at least highlights how the symbolism of color varies across the world. So if you are developing applications or designing products for people in other parts of the world, be aware that the colors you use may have specific meanings that are quite different from the meanings you’re familiar with.

See also:

[Link last checked January 2010]


  1. […] to Rhonda Bracey of the Cybertext Newsletter for sharing this on her own […]

  2. […] to Rhonda Bracey of the Cybertext Newsletter for sharing this on her own blog. Share and […]

  3. i believe the color perception has something to do with the culture these countries are soaked throughout generations. while they are varying from country to country, they still possess a sort of deep meaning to the people practicing the beliefs.

  4. oooh, timely! I need this help for work.
    Rhonda is doing well – he got a sunny spot on my desk ^_^.

    thanks for article.

  5. Glad to hear Rhonda is doing well, Sarah! For those not ‘in the know’, the Rhonda she’s referring to is a fish. Sarah and I worked together. When she got a fish for her cubicle, she called him Rhonda, as in “A fish called Rhonda”. There’s a picture here: http://sandgroper14.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/a-fish-called-rhonda/

  6. So as to not offend anyone, perhaps we should stick with gray.

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