When it comes to visual merchandising, your window display is probably the easiest way to make your store the center of attention. In a way, you could consider them billboards for your retail store, advertising of your own making and design. Many times, a well-designed display is going to be the defining factor that turns a mere browser into an invested shopper.

Even though designing a window display is not rocket science and anyone interested could do it successfully with a little bit of research, there are a couple of things that could go wrong and that you should pay attention to. One of the trickiest and most important aspects of a window display is the use of color. From an outside perspective, it can seem like as long as you don’t make crazy color combinations, your display is good to go. That can be true, but there are a couple of things worth considering in order to assure the chromatic success of your store’s window display.

Here is a list of tips on how to reap the full benefits colors have to offer in terms of window display design.

  • Remember: bright colors grab the eye
Much like magpies, people seem to be attracted by bright and shiny things. Of course, colors are no exceptions. Therefore, your window display will most certainly benefit from the effects conveyed by colors such as yellow, cyan, orange and spring green. Anyone who approaches your store will be grabbed by the lively colors and will want to have a look inside. How can you achieve this effect? On one hand, you can pick a bright background, but if you choose to do so, also consider the type of lighting you want to use.

A bright background accompanied by bright lights can be a bit off putting and not that easy on the eyes like we would want our display. On the other hand, you can highlight the key items in your display with colors that are brighter than the background. This tends to work particularly well with yellow and red, as yellow is the color our eyes see first and red is used everywhere around us, in various conventions such as stops signs, traffic lights and alarms.

However, because of these negative connotations that can be associated with the color red, make sure you don’t abuse its positive effects when it comes to visual merchandising. Experts advise that a chromatically optimal window display should never be composed of more than 20% red, as that could attract the customer’s attention for all the wrong reasons, all while irritating them.

  • Pick a color palette and stick with it
This tends to be the aspect that people get wrong. Picking a color scheme and sticking with it is perhaps the most important, because it gives your window display some much-needed structure. Even if you choose to go about a very artsy route and give your window display an out of the ordinary look, a cohesive color palette will keep together the various choices you have made. This tends to be overlooked by many shop designers who think that a crazy blend of color will take hold of the customer’s interest. In reality, it will indeed attract the customer’s attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

When designing your store’s window display, pick a limited number of colors and think of the ways in which you want the colors to interact. In order to create chromatic harmony, you can choose to put complementary colors next to each other. Complementary colors are the colors that are direct opposites on the color wheel and they come in pairs: red-green, orange-blue, yellow-purple, according to the classic color theory model. Finally, add a third color, which could be a split complementary color. These are the two neighboring colors of a certain color on the chromatic wheel. Most designers like using a palette like this, in order to give their color choices a cohesive feel.

That being said, you should use at least three colors. An all-white window display definitely looks modern, sleek and clean, but will never catch the passer-by eye like pairing it with splashes of black and red.

  • Influence shoppers by inducing various emotions
Each of us can notice the effects color has on our daily lives. It seems to resonate with what we are feeling at a given moment, amplifying or even inducing emotions. There is a whole scientific field studying these effects, which is called “color psychology”. You might have heard of chromatic therapy, which is used by some people suffering from anxiety and panic attacks to ameliorate some effects of their disorder.

How can we use this in designing a beautiful and appealing window display? Well, we can make a choice of color that is based on the feelings we are trying to convey. For instance, warm colors such as yellow and orange are perceived by the customer as inviting and reassuring, while cool colors such as green and blue have a calming effect on customers. Depending on the season, the influx of customers and the general atmosphere you are picking up, use this warm-cool variation to achieve the desired effect inside your store.

  • Never allow color to overpower your product
In order for a display window to serve its purpose, it must offer a good representation of some items inside your store, as to drive sales. Therefore, you must remember that unless you are selling paint, the main purpose of color as part of your window display is to complement and highlight the product. If the color you have chosen doesn’t go with the nature of the item itself, the display is not well-designed.

This shouldn’t be particularly difficult to get right with most products, such as clothing items and toys. However, there are some products that are definitely problematic and that are very easy to overpower, such as jewelry and lingerie. The material they are made of is usually so delicate that your best bet is to go with a simple, neutral background and try to steal the attention with a creative set-up and adequate lighting. Electronics can also pose some problems, as their modern and sleek look can be easily affected by any harsh colors.

  • Think bold
Nowadays, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. When we are out shopping, we are usually with friends, chatting and not paying a whole lot of attention to our surroundings. Seeing how your window display is the first impression the store makes to a customer, make sure they have no chance but to come in and have a look around.

Carefully chosen and paired bold colors that can be seen from the distance will most certainly captivate people and make them come inside the store. For extra boldness, which is something we should aspire towards not just in merchandising, pair strong colors with shapes that are just as imposing and bold. This way, you make sure your display is the center of attention and everyone is going to have a look at it, maybe even considering coming in and purchasing something.

Finally, these are just a couple of basic guidelines. Don’t be afraid to experiment with color when designing your window displays, because experimentation is the only way of ensuring you find out the best option for your retail store. And always remember, have fun with it!