Marie Kendall-Waters

Have you ever attended a presentation and been shown a slideshow or walked down the street and been given a flyer and felt a little queasy at the colour use? Perhaps the colours don’t compliment each other, perhaps the colours used bleed into one another or the font colour is hard to read on the background colour, either way it doesn’t engage you – it has quite the opposite effect!

So why does colour use affect us so much?

Colour use is much more deeply-rooted in our daily lives then we tend to think about. Colour can affect our moods and behaviour and can have different meanings in different cultures. Choosing the ‘correct’ colours can either hinder learning or increase learning and this is why it is one of the major things we need to consider in instructional design.

How do I know what colours to use when designing?

Colours have stereotypical ways that they are interpreted, these are called colour associations. When designing it is important to understand colour associations, but also be aware that these aren’t the set rules to go by, as colour is also very dependant on the individual, their preferences and experiences.

Here are some examples of colour associations:

  • Blue – can represent trust, peace, order, and loyalty
  • Yellow – can represent happiness, fun, playful
  • Green – can represent nature
  • Black – can represent luxury and value
  • White – can represent freedom, spaciousness, and breathability

For me, I like to use a lot of white space in my designs, as I like a design to look ‘clean’ and I use pops of other colours to highlight important areas. As a learner I also find I am able to engage more if there isn’t too much colour distracting me.

Understanding the psychology of colour can help you when designing for students so it is important to look at colour associations and profiles when brainstorming ideas for a project where design is involved. I often use colours surrounding me in my everyday life to influence my decision on colour palettes. However if you do get stuck for inspiration there are always some useful tools online to help you, such as:

Here are some other useful sites which may help you when considering your choice of colour –

The psychology of colour particularly in elearning and instructional design:

https://elearningindustry.com/psychology-of-color-instructional-design

http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/348188/6-Ways-Color-Psychology-Can-Be-Used-to-Design-Effective-eLearning

Designing for colour-blindness:

www.visibone.com/colorblind/

Interesting article about colour use in brand design:

www.webpagefx.com/logo-colors/