Instagram's Hudson Blue hue. Images via
These days, there are a number of similarities between Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and LinkedIn; they’re all among the web’s most well-known social networks, they all drive the exponentially growing web traffic we’ve seen over the last decade— and, they’re all blue.
According to an exposé published today on The Awl, the web's usage of the color is obvious, and widespread boldly across every header, logo and app in their considerable domain. Even The Creators Project website is itself trimmed a lovely Intel blue. It's strange, though, the ubiquity of this single color. Is it simply a cosmic coincidence that the Internet’s powers-that-be all happen to be blue? In times of doubt and speculation, we turn to science for answers.
It all comes down to clicks: according to a survey Google designers performed in the company’s adolescent years, the shade of blue they chose for their innovative new search bar consistently influenced the quantity of clickers. Inspiration, it seems, also comes from the standards of design aesthetics. In an interview with Storyboard, Tumblr designer Peter Vidani stated, “Posts are bright on that blue background and lifted up with shadows. I love that from a distance the site would look like it was only made up of posts.” Blue, the color of the sea and the sky— and not much else in the natural world, save an errant few birds, minerals, fish, eyeballs, and bugs— is a natural choice of backdrop when things need to be seen. Trees and mountains, prey and predators all *pop* against a blue background. Now, the same thinking applies to tweets, funny GIFs, and pictures of your friends’ breakfasts.
For insight into blue design, we can also turn to science fiction. From Minority Report to Galaxy Quest, the interfaces of the fictional future are often also painted blue. As sci-fi experts Chris Noessel and Nathan Shedroff suggest in their book, Make it So: Interface Design Lessons from Sci-Fi, it may be because the color is so rare in nature. It projects a powerful aura of technological mysticism, and since technological development is often informed by science fiction, the tech world may have followed suit.
For all its omnipresence within the Internet we know and love, the hyperlink, too, has a simple explanation for its color. On early computer screens, blue was the darkest color that wasn’t black. Once this trend was set into binary stone, the rest of the web seemingly hopped on the blue bandwagon. Perhaps in the Internet's engrained taste for blue, we find the first real instance of the Internet-as-hive mind.
It must be noted, however, that these explanations are only hypotheses and partial truths which inform the perceived relationship between blue and the World Wide Web. Sure there are anomalies like red Pinterest and green Imgur, but they might be exceptions that proves the rule. Partially rooted in science, and partially in trend, we don't know what the Internet’s next favorite color will be, but here's to hoping it's purple.
h/t The Awl