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Design for Software: A Playbook for Developers by Erik Klimczak

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Chapter 7: Color

“Cornflower blue is my go-to color”

EVER WONDER WHY your applications, websites, or mobile apps don’t quite stack up? Do you look at other people’s work and wonder: “How come I didn’t think of that?” or “They used hot pink, and it looks awesome?!” Have you spent way too much time trying to style your own software only to end up empty-handed? Well, it’s time to give it another shot. Only this time, I’m going to try and approach this inherently subjective topic with an objective mindset.

Color theory is one of those tedious but crucial topics that every designer learns in school. And with good reason. There’s a lot to it, and some folks even spend their entire career dedicated to it. At its core, color evokes emotion. And that emotion will be different for everybody because of cultural and personal backgrounds. Thus, color is an extremely subjective topic. Moreover, combining the right colors can be the difference between a generic-looking piece of software and a professionally designed one that stands out.

I can already hear what you’re thinking, “I don’t really care about color theory, just gimme some good colors to use.” (Yes, I can hear your thoughts.) I don’t blame you. That’s why I’m going to forgo most of the tedious charts and science involved with color theory and get to the point. Color is a well-established discipline that many people have thoroughly documented. Although I run the risk of being berated by my fellow designers, I’m going attempt to distill ...

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