Independent Activity 1: Research into Color

Using the Research‐Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines you downloaded in Week 2 ‐

•    Why should you not use color alone to convey information?

Never use color as the only indicator for critical activities. About eight percent of males and about one-half of one percent of females have difficulty discriminating colors. Most users with color deficiencies have difficulty seeing colors in the green portion of the spectrum.

To accommodate color-deficient users, designers should:
     • Select color combinations that can be discriminated by users with color deficiencies;
     • Use tools to see what Web pages will look like when seen by color deficient users;
     • Ensure that the lightness contrast between foreground and background colors is high;
     • Increase the lightness contrast between colors on either end of the spectrum (e.g., blues and reds); and
     • Avoid combining light colors from either end of the spectrum with dark colors from the middle of the spectrum.
     •    How can color be used to provide feedback on users’ location?

Feedback provides users with the information they need to understand where they are within the Web site, and for proceeding to the next activity. Examples of feedback include providing path and hierarchy information (i.e., ’breadcrumbs’), matching link text to the destination page’s heading, and creating URLs that relate to the user’s location on the site. Other forms of feedback include changing the color of a link that has been clicked (suggesting that destination has been visited), and using other visual cues to indicate the active portion of the screen.

     •    What is the best color for links and to designate used links?

Generally, it is best to use the default text link colors (blue as an unvisited location/link and purple as a visited location/link).

     •    How can you use color to provide grouping and help users understand what does and do not go together?

Color coding permits users to rapidly scan and quickly perceive patterns and relationships among items. Items that share the same color will be considered as being related to each other, while items with prominent color differences will seem to be different.

People can distinguish up to ten different colors that are assigned to different categories, but it may be safer to use no more than five different colors for category coding. If more than ten different colors are used, the effects of any particular relationship will be lost.

Do not use color alone to convey information.