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One color per feature, but which one ?

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#1 etisa


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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:00 PM


I thought about associating each feature of my site with a color.
The idea is to help users recognize features across a page and across the site.

Here is a list of most of the features available on my site :

Navigation : languages, home, archives, sitemap
Search : Google, tags
Content : articles
Interaction : comments, trackbacks, contact, bug report
Advertisements : ads, referrals
About : policies, copyright, license

The very question is : colors have meanings, which color mean which feature ?

PS : Please don't make suggestions if you don't really know.

#2 Black_Knight


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Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:49 PM

Green can be excellent for navigation, both for its connotations to the traffic-light signal for go, and for roaming open green expanses.

I would think of search as being blue, reminiscent of both water and sky, and thus of plucking ideas from either the depths, or the air.

Policies, Copyright, License? Oh, how grey those must seem. :)

Is your content golden (or is that your ads?) For me, the content would be golden, sunny, warm and as healthy as a ripe field of golden grain, all ready for harvesting.

I'm afraid that advertising often makes me see red. It certainly requires a stop-signal before I want to take its claims for granted. Yet red is also the colour of passion and strength. It is bold, and committed, and demanding of attention.

Fun game. :(

The truth is that colours are both personal and cultural. In one culture yellow means cowardice or sickness, while in another it is happiness and prosperity. You have to know your market.

If in doubt, test, especially with split-run testing. Foirget what people say they do - see what they really do. Which colour combos result in the best results for your purposes?

#3 etisa


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Posted 06 September 2006 - 05:04 PM

I'm working on a network of multilingual blogs of various topics.
So it seems that I can forget about the meaning, I'll just associate any color, which already is a good idea.

Thanks anyway.

#4 radiorental


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Posted 06 September 2006 - 06:56 PM

I done a little bit of work in using colours in UIs: http://web.mac.com/p...mages/mimic.png

This may apply to me more than you but do choose your colours wisely because changing them at a later date, especially if they have gained meaning, is something to be avoided.

I'm more of an application developer than a web guy but have a question. Would it not be possible, given this is forums right?, to allow users to define their own colour scheme. Is there a way to define css through through their account login? at least you might be able to give users a few schemes they can choose.

take care, good luck,

#5 A.N.Onym


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Posted 06 September 2006 - 07:15 PM

etisa, you may want to search for 'psychology of color' and think what emotions you want to associate with any of your features.

Ammon has given excellent examples and background for the most important elements, though, and I'd think they'll work regardless of what is said in the manuals.

Radiorental, as a site of one of our moderators says, "Yes.".

But the key question should be: do they need it?

Advanced users can use their own stylesheets if they are desperate (Firefox and Opera allow having your own stylesheets, as far as I know).

I'd guess the solution would be of leaving a cookie, with the preferred stylesheet put there. As simple as that.

#6 sebastienbillard


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Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:03 AM

Don't rely too much on color's meanings as they are very culture-dependant. A color doesn't mean the same thing for an european and an asian.

Also, make sure your colors are usable (enough contrast ? color blindness), and that the color of minor feature don't distract the use or reading of the main feature (like a vibrant red menu affecting the reading of the main content).

#7 radiorental


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Posted 07 September 2006 - 08:47 AM

A.N.Onym, by giving users the ability to change a particular colour you solve the issue of cultural meaning. I'm not suggesting you force css definition on to the user. Similar to windows, you have a default colour scheme but also addtional and user defined schemes.

It depends on the forum's demographics but I would feel confident in stating there's going to be a significant percentage of users who will utilise any UI customisation functionality.

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