Not All Black & White
October 4, 2007 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Using Color In Information Display Graphics - a resource from NASA, "intended to help designers who are not color experts find usable color designs" [via]

SoundsLooks like a good jumping point to point out great and not-so-great examples of the colored web.
posted by Gyan (11 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Niiice. I have this exact problem, in fact. And it's even for aerospace (kind of).
posted by DU at 8:39 AM on October 4, 2007

Ahh, this helps me understand why I want to shoot the people who thought up the blue LED tickers around in the libraries here.

Blue is painfully hard to read on black.
posted by that girl at 8:44 AM on October 4, 2007

and their web design is so clever that none of the images load without javascript enabled! good on ya.
posted by jepler at 8:51 AM on October 4, 2007

See also Cynthia Brewer's excellent ColorBrewer.
posted by xthlc at 9:00 AM on October 4, 2007

Hey - this is awesome. Good find.
posted by GuyZero at 9:12 AM on October 4, 2007

May as well throw in one you guys are probably already aware of: John December's Color Schemes page.
posted by christopherious at 9:18 AM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of a recent blog post by Marius Watz about the USGS lunar mapping images. Interesting colour palette, they work both aesthetically and as data visualizations.
posted by Nelson at 10:56 AM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ugh. The schemes on the December page are all ugly as hell. Hey, I'm a graphic designer and I'll give all you color-challenged a bit of free, condensed design advice:

1. Be liberal with your use of neutrals. (black, white, gray. Brown is not a neutral.) Don't feel the need to color everything.

2. Fewer colors are better. Use shades of the same colors for variation.

3. Really bright colors are best in small doses.

4. For type, lots of contrast is necessary for readability. If you reverse out type (like here on the blue), use a sans serif.

Pretty basic stuff, but if you don't know it it'll keep you from getting in too much trouble. There's a lot of good info on the NASA page.
posted by Mcable at 11:12 AM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mcable: good advice, but the "fewer colors are better" rule should have a caveat for visualization. You can use shades for variation, but only if you're showing gradations in numeric data and not categorical differences.

For example, (oh image tag, wherefore art thou?), if I color a US county map based on the percentage of Arab-Americans, I'd want to use different saturation levels of a particular hue (say green). However, if I wanted to show which states have income tax, sales tax, or both, I'd pick three colors of contrasting hues but similar saturations.
posted by xthlc at 12:13 PM on October 4, 2007

"good advice, but the "fewer colors are better" rule should have a caveat for visualization"

Good point, and excellent example!
posted by Mcable at 1:54 PM on October 4, 2007

RE: USGS Lunar Mapping images: Would look damn cool printed up poster-sized and hung on my wall. Saved to disk!
posted by caution live frogs at 2:38 PM on October 4, 2007

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