Design: Color

What is the meaning behind the colors (or lack thereof) in your digital storytelling project? Explore Kuler, Color Scheme Designer, and Design Seeds for effective combinations.

Understanding the rhetorical effect of color is an important part of the design process. How does color influence the audience? What meanings does your audience attribute to different colors? Color includes the hues and tones of the text, the background, and the graphics. Color should enhance the interface and contribute positively to its appearance. The contrast of colors is also important. For example, the stylistic emphasis on black and white (and the highly selective use of color) helps to make Martin Luther King’s speech come alive in the digital story Freedom’s Ring.

Freedom’s Ring. Screenshot from Freedom’s Ring, December 15, 2014.

Warm colors: Active colors which advance

Red, and colors in the red family (like hot pink), are attention-getters. The color gives the impression of confidence and passion. Vibrant colors like red are used most effectively as accent colors, to draw attention to a key element. Orange(s) is a bold, vivid, and friendly color. It is worth noting that bold colors like red and orange, when overused, can be too bold and overpower the overall composition. While the intention might be bold and spirited the effect can instead be brassy, loud, flashy, harsh, or showy. Yellow(s) is bright and stimulating. This color often gives the impression of happiness and cheerfulness. While it is a sunny, fun color, beware of yellow text, as it is difficult to read.

Cool colors: Colors which appear to recede

Green(s) is often associated with life and rejuvenation. Green easily relates us to the natural world. It can be an inspirational color with harmonious, balancing effects. It is a restful color for the eye. Blues connote calm and trust. Blue is also a color associated with technology. It’s a color we associate with blinking wireless Bluetooth gadgets, data streams, and bone-conduction relays. Blue(s) is also a color of choice for corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Facebook— entities that desire to seem professional and hi-tech. In the design world, there is a heavy reliance on “business blue.” Beware of being cliché. Purple(s) is the combination of blue and red. Rich in hue, the color connotes wisdom, royalty, and luxury. Creativity, play, magic, imagination, and higher consciousness are all associated with the color purple.