174 Best Practices for Graphic Designers: Grids and Page Layouts
Knowing the ways in which color can unify content and
create areas that are linked in the mind of the viewer, it
is a short step to understanding that color can be used
to organize the material itself. Perhaps even on a more
basic level, color coding has been used extensively for
years in everything from exit signs to office file folders,
and is an organizational principle that people are very
comfortable with. In a similar way to how people are
used to using color to bring order to their lives, order
can be brought to your layout by creating modules
out of color to contain like information. Another way
that order can be achieved is by deciding hierarchically
that all “green” content is on one level, while all “tan
information would be subordinate. Color can be used in
layouts to separate headlines or differentiate one section
from another, or in a periodical to separate one issue
from another.
The properties of the colors that are being used can also
aid in organizing the content. Superficially, colors from
the same family will group together to connect disparate
areas of information and can be used to add structure
to the layout. On a deeper level, warm colors—those
like reds and yellows—tend to come to the foreground,
while cool colorslike blues and greensrecede. With
this in mind, combinations of warm and cool colors can
be used to support the communication objectives.
If the format is divided by an equal
three-column grid, and two columns
hold primary content, leaving only
one of the columns to house section
introductions, these introductions
can be made to pop to the fore-
ground by making them a rust color
while the remaining content is a
cool gray or a black with some blue
in it. Without adjusting anything
elsetype size, style, etc.—a system
where warm and cool colors are used
to codify and separate content can be
a very effective method of providing
structure to a layout.
Color: Color as an Organizational Tool 175
It is important to note, however, that consistent use
is key. Like the grid system itself, when color—or
anything, for that matter—is used to organize the
content, the viewer will come to expect certain things.
When designing, think of rules for the way that color
will be used. When it is appropriate, these rules
can be bent or broken, but if there is no consistency,
the information will appear chaotic and the orderly
regularity that is required to build a solid foundation
for your communication will not emerge to the viewer.
The signage developed for
Sportschule Hennef was color-
coded to help dene the sections of
information and ensure clarity for
the viewer. The hierarchical grid
used is visible through the divisions
of color, providing unified areas to
house directions, place names, and
translations, as well as icons describ-
ing visually what can be found by
going in each direction.
FIRM 804
CLIENT Sportshule Hennef

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