Choose the Proper Colors

Color adds dimension, or realism, to screen usability. Color draws attention because it attracts a person's eye. If used properly, it can emphasize the logical organization of information, facilitate the discrimination of screen components, accentuate differences among elements, and make displays more interesting and attractive. If used improperly, color can be distracting and possibly visually fatiguing, impairing the system's usability. This step will discuss

  • Color's characteristics.
    • What color is.
    • The uses of color.
    • Possible problems and cautions when working with color.
    • Color connotations.
    • The results of color research.
    • Color and human vision.
  • How to use color.
  • How to choose the proper colors for textual graphic screens.
  • How to choose the proper colors for statistical graphics screens.
  • How to choose the proper color for Web screen text and images.

Effective use of color in screen design has taken great steps forward in the last four decades. Earlier text-based displays could only present a few colors, and many of the colors were not very legible. Color was often overused in combinations that reminded one more of a Christmas tree than of an effective source of communication. The evolution to graphical screens expanded the use of color, but did not immediately eliminate some of the color problems. Today, because technology has improved, as well as our understanding of what constitutes good design, colors in screens are being used much more ...

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