1 in every 12 men and 1 in every 165 women report some form of
color vision disability.1
Many of us realize the power and significance color schemes and color cues play in learning. Most of us have specific color preferences. Color blindness is only one important fact to keep in mind when devising a color scheme that makes your content accessible to all students.
Colors appear differently depending on the person, the computer, the monitor, the operating system, or the browser used. Because you cannot be sure everyone will see the "real" colors you chose, try to view your course on an array of computers and browsers to see what others may see.
Key Color Considerations
- Use a consistent color scheme. Use no more than five colors in your palette. Different shades of the same hue with one or two extra colors as accents work well.
- Choose a light shade for the background color. Dark text against a white background is the most readable combination. If you decide to use a non-white background, select a light color to maximize contrast. Avoid dark pages or loud glaring colors, such as bright red, green, or yellow. These cause eye fatigue and are hard to read.
- Use color discreetly and use strong color sparingly. For example, black on yellow is a good color combination because the contrast between the colors is strong. But for the entire page? Instead, use the black and yellow combination for drawing attention to a portion of your page, such as an information chart.
- Choose different colors for each of the three link statuses: visited, active, and static. Keep these consistent throughout the course. Link colors should be dark enough to be easily visible on a white background.
- Avoid placing red and green, and blue and brown together. These color pairings are hard to tell apart by people with color blindness.
- Do not rely on color alone to relay key information. Make important text stand out by highlighting it in bold, using an asterisk (*) beside it, or using the emphasis tag. Use the ALT attribute on colored images to help convey information that is color dependent.
Harmonious Color Combinations
Monochromatic color schemes use a single color. You can use differing values of one color to create the feel of different colors. Monochromatic color schemes are harmonious and peaceful, and provide a feel of sophistication. Using a single color creates unity and can help to create or tie things together.
Analogous color combinations use colors that are related. Analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs. These combinations are often found in nature, and are harmonious and pleasing to the eye. A selection of blues and purples, or reds and oranges create an analogous color scheme.
Contrasting colors are complementary and pleasing to the eye. Colors that are opposites create contrasting color schemes. For example, yellow and purple or red and green are contrasting colors. Contrasting color schemes generally use a warm color and a cool color.
Triadic color combinations are comprised of three opposing colors. A triadic color scheme uses colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Red, yellow, and blue would be a triadic color scheme.