Readability of Colour

Designing Information Material 4(1+3)

Lesson 8 : Colours

Readability of Colour

Colours that are used in information materials must have good readability. Therefore the information designer should:

  • Use colour to emphasize or to play something down
  • Use colour to show differences or similarities
  • Use colour to help readers recall information and to find things.

Yellow is a powerful colour because of its luminosity. It is especially powerful when combined with black. Graphic symbols often make use of bright colours to intensify their meaning. Common hues in graphic symbols are pure yellow, red, blue, green, white and black, or combinations of the same. Colour may be combined with shape, and position or with both, which is often seen in traffic signs. Complementary colours contrast and they provide warm cool effect.

Studies have shown that colour coding improves attention, learner motivation and memory. Subjects dislike the use of more than three or four text colours on the same page, screen or slide. For some learners and for some educational objectives, colour improves the achievement of the learners.
Attention to Colour
In order to attract attention within information materials the information designer can:

  1. Use bold and bright colours to get attention
  2. Use colour coding to improve attention
  3. Use colour to enhance attention to a visual message.

To some extent colour is a language of its own. Colour creates instant impact and it becomes a vital part of the first impression. Therefore colours can be used as effective signals in information design. Bold and bright colours will attract and capture our attention. Colour enhances the attention and perception of a visual message. If people like the contents in a picture, they like them even more when the visual is presented in colour.

Yellow, orange and red hues are perceived as warm and active colours. Red evokes feelings of strong emotions. Violet, blue and blue-green are perceived as cool and passive hues. Blue is often used to represent truth and honesty. White is often associated with innocence and purity and black often represents evil and darkness. Subjects dislike the use of more than three or four text colours on the same page, screen or side. Colour coding is a good way to show that something is especially important and interesting

People might see colours in the same way. However, no two persons experience colour in the same way. Thus the human reactions to colour stimuli cannot be standardized. Depending on age, culture, gender and profession there are different subjective reactions to colour. There are likes and dislikes of colour, based on general as well as personal associations. Colour coding will increase understanding and learning. The number of colour codes should be limited and they should always be explained. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, it is important that colour be used consistently. Inconsistent use of colours will reduce learning

Last modified: Saturday, 28 April 2012, 11:47 AM