Colors and Usability

14 Jul 2009 - 11:24pm
5 years ago
15 replies
1029 reads
Harikrishna VP
2008

Esteeemed members,

I have two information requests.

1) Can you please share some literature on usage of colors and
usability.

2) Also can you please share your knowledge on whether a color affect
the download speed of a website. For example does a white background
page load faster than a black background page. Or doesnt it make any
difference?

Regards
Harikrishna VP

Comments

15 Jul 2009 - 12:56am
Jeff Howard
2004

Yes, the use of color does affect the download speed of a website.
Websites with color download more slowly than websites without color.
The hexidecimal values used to specify colors can contribute several
additional bytes to HTML and CSS files. But this difference is
infinitesimal and almost certainly below the threshold for detection
by human beings using even the slowest of internet connections.

The larger concern would be how the color itself is perceived. It's
entirely possible that a darker background could appear less active
and thus "slower" than a white background. But the opposite effect
could also be achieved based on the skill of the designer.

Kevin Mullet, Jakob Nielsen and Bruce Tognazzini all reference the
use of color fleetingly in their writings.

// jeff

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15 Jul 2009 - 1:15am
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

It shouldn't make any difference -- the "choice" of color does not
affect the size of the data being downloaded.

I do agree that there could be a user perception issue, depending on
how the delay in loading overlaid graphics, background images, etc
affects the order of rendering. For example, if you had white text
(as images) over a dark background image, and the text loaded first
with the background loading last, you would see nothing (well, you'd
probably see the antialiased edges in the text, but still) until the
final background image loaded. If the colors were reversed, you would
see the text images over the plain white background immediately.

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15 Jul 2009 - 1:35am
Jeff Howard
2004

To clarify, the selection of one color over another doesn't affect
the size of the data, but the choice to specify color at all rather
than accepting the browser default color (white or gray) does affect
the size of data. But not enough to matter.

// jeff

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15 Jul 2009 - 1:28am
MediaMetrics India
2009

I go with joshua, lets take a vey simple case of background colour in
a simple html/css website. the background can be pumped from the css
and so i feel to my view colours (injected through the colour index
number) does not make any difference.

But with regards to perception, yes there is a whole new way of
approaching the situation. Also this mainly goes by the view of the
corporate branding too.

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15 Jul 2009 - 8:24am
C K Vijay Bhaskar
2009

One of the sites that talks on color and usability is :
http://www.colormatters.com/usability.html. You can also google for
more info on this topic.

About the color and download speed:
The fact is that any information over the internet is just binary
data that is processed via the user's computer. The speed would
depend on the connection speed, the inflow of color information, the
ability of the browser to decipher the color based on its internal
algorithm and properties and finally the ability of the graphic chip
on the mother board to aid in the processing of the color on the
user's screen. With the current advancement of technology, all this
happens in a matter of milliseconds or less.

Hope this helps.

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15 Jul 2009 - 9:06am
Stephen Nitz
2009

>From a purely graphic design standpoint it has been clearly proven
that black text on a white background is easier to read than white on
black. Anything in between the two would be a judgement call.

If you were mainly presenting video with a little text description a
dark background would focus the user on the video window.

If your site is mainly text, a light background would be the better
choice.

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15 Jul 2009 - 10:36am
Michael Micheletti
2006

A couple more links for you:

Colorblindness simulator:
http://colororacle.cartography.ch/

Accessibility in Interaction Design course at the Open University:
http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=2057

NASA/Ames Research Center - Designing with Luminance Contrast:
http://colorusage.arc.nasa.gov/design_lum_0.php
These guys have great info and examples at their site, recommended.

Michael Micheletti

On Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 11:24 PM, C K Vijay Bhaskar <
ckvijaybhaskar at gmail.com> wrote:

> One of the sites that talks on color and usability is :
> http://www.colormatters.com/usability.html. You can also google for
> more info on this topic.
>
> About the color and download speed:
> The fact is that any information over the internet is just binary
> data that is processed via the user's computer. The speed would
> depend on the connection speed, the inflow of color information, the
> ability of the browser to decipher the color based on its internal
> algorithm and properties and finally the ability of the graphic chip
> on the mother board to aid in the processing of the color on the
> user's screen. With the current advancement of technology, all this
> happens in a matter of milliseconds or less.
>
> Hope this helps.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43732
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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--
Michael Micheletti
michael.micheletti at gmail.com

15 Jul 2009 - 11:31am
j.scot
2008

Another endorsement of the NASA site... it's useful when dealing with
unenlightened execs as they see NASA as indisputably authoritative.

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15 Jul 2009 - 8:51pm
Richard Dalton
2008

Yes, the 25 or so extra characters (background-color:#00ff00;) will
add about 0.0003 seconds at 768 kbit/s broadband.

OOOoooooo.

- Richard

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15 Jul 2009 - 9:02pm
Richard Dalton
2008

(and just to add something constructive)

Check this out. Much more interesting color topic than talking about
download times.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/24/the-blue-and-the-green/

- Richard

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15 Jul 2009 - 11:43pm
Sanu George
2009

Hi All

To add on to Hari's question.

I recently heard in a conference the presenter pointing out that, google
tested different shades of blue for better download speed.

Does this make sense.

Regards
Sanu George

16 Jul 2009 - 1:11am
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

I suspect the "google blue" meme you mention comes from here:

http://stopdesign.com/archive/2009/03/20/goodbye-google.html

which mentions the testing in terms of aesthetics, not download
speed.

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16 Jul 2009 - 2:19am
Medina
2009

"1) Can you please share some literature on usage of colors and usability."

Color theory in typography design touches on some points that are very useful from a usability standpoint: the intrinsic brightness of backgrounds and text; the emotional response to colors; use of color as a point of interest (e.g. the strategic use of color as a focal point in a composition to draw the eye to a place in which especially important information is contained). These are principles touched on in Color Theory and Typography Design. I believe such texts are especially useful for usability professionals, as well.

16 Jul 2009 - 10:30am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jul 14, 2009, at 8:24 PM, Harikrishna VP wrote:

> 1) Can you please share some literature on usage of colors and
> usability.

Molly Holzschlag has an awesome book on this topic. Unfortunately, I'm
writing from an airplane and don't have access to the interwebs, so I
can't cite the title.

I think it will answer all your questions.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: @jmspool

16 Jul 2009 - 11:54am
jet
2008

Also remember that some users might need to change to colors that a
designer might consider non-optimal. There's a strong belief that
dark-on-white text is best for screen, but for those of us that are
light sensitive, green or orange on black is best if we're manipulating
large amounts of text.

--jet

Michael Micheletti wrote:
> A couple more links for you:
>
> Colorblindness simulator:
> http://colororacle.cartography.ch/
>
> Accessibility in Interaction Design course at the Open University:
> http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=2057
>
> NASA/Ames Research Center - Designing with Luminance Contrast:
> http://colorusage.arc.nasa.gov/design_lum_0.php
> These guys have great info and examples at their site, recommended.
>
> Michael Micheletti
>
>
> On Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 11:24 PM, C K Vijay Bhaskar <
> ckvijaybhaskar at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> One of the sites that talks on color and usability is :
>> http://www.colormatters.com/usability.html. You can also google for
>> more info on this topic.
>>
>> About the color and download speed:
>> The fact is that any information over the internet is just binary
>> data that is processed via the user's computer. The speed would
>> depend on the connection speed, the inflow of color information, the
>> ability of the browser to decipher the color based on its internal
>> algorithm and properties and finally the ability of the graphic chip
>> on the mother board to aid in the processing of the color on the
>> user's screen. With the current advancement of technology, all this
>> happens in a matter of milliseconds or less.
>>
>> Hope this helps.
>>
>>
>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>> Posted from the new ixda.org
>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43732
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
>
>
>

--
J. Eric "jet" Townsend -- designer, fabricator, hacker

design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
PGP: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

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