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Designing Dashboards

5 Design Tips to Enhance Your Dashboard Colors

By Michelle Gardner | August 2, 2019
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In data analytics dashboards, the role of color is not just aesthetic—color can also convey meaning. It can immediately draw your users’ eyes to critical information, identify relationships, or highlight potential issues before they become big problems.

>> UI for BI: Designing High-Impact Dashboards <<

Often, the task of choosing dashboard colors is left up to developers who may not feel comfortable making design choices on their own. Fortunately, this task isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

Using these 5 quick fixes, you can easily evaluate and enhance your dashboard color schemes:

Fix #1: Start With Your Brand

Start your color scheme research with your company’s existing brand. Find your company color profile, which will provide color values (CMYK, RGB or HEX) and percentages so you can re-create your color palette in your dashboard. For example, the primary green color of the Logi Analytics logo has Hex color code #89BB40 and an RGB value of 137, 187, and 64.

Identify your brand’s dominant color (usually the one that pops out in your logo) and use it as your accent color to focus attention on the most important information in your embedded dashboards. Then choose secondary dashboard colors that complement the accent color.

Fix #2: Use Free Color Tools

Choosing complementary colors (colors that go together) can be challenging, especially for non-designers. However, a number of online tools can help. The Adobe Color Wheel is a free library that lets you browse thousands of color combinations and create your own color schemes.

Another tool that can help in the color scheme process is Paletton, which features a live colorizer you can use to try out your color choices within your own projects. If you’d like to add simple patterns to your color scheme, try using Toptal Subtle Patterns, which gives you a sampling of free patterns. As you determine your color palette, keep in mind that different devices may display the same color value differently. You’ll need to test your dashboard colors on a variety of devices and screen sizes.

Fix #3: Remember That Less Is More

Overusing color is the most common mistake application teams make when designing dashboards and reports. Too much color clutters your message. Aim to use six or fewer colors in your data visualizations. Natural colors are generally better than bright or bold colors. Reserve bright or dark colors to highlight outliers or important calls to action.

Also remember that each color in a data visualization should serve a purpose. Use different dashboard colors only when you’re communicating different things. So, if you’re using two colors on a chart, they should always represent two different concepts.

Fix #4: Account for Associated Meanings

Many colors have meanings that can work for or against you. Colors are key to getting your message across—and the right ones can help you communicate meaning to your audience without using extra labels and indicators in your dashboards.

For example, you might use red for danger or financial loss, and green for positive feelings or financial gain. Remember: As long as you can answer the question, “What purpose does this color serve, and will it serve it effectively?” then your use of color is entirely appropriate.

Fix #5: Test for Color Blindness

Roughly one in 20 people have a color vision deficiency. We suggest using a color blindness checker such as Color Brewer, which allows you to choose color schemes using pre-selected color sets that have been tested for color blindness and contrast.

For more dashboard design fixes, read our ebook: Dashboard Design Tips for Non-Designers >

 

About the Author

Michelle Gardner is the Content Marketing Manager at Logi Analytics. She has over a decade of experience writing and editing content, with a specialty in software and technology.

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