Standards for color use (Was: color considered harmful)

Standards for color use (Was: color considered harmful)

Post by Peter Gor » Fri, 17 Apr 1992 02:16:38

Only to supplement the discussion about color I want to point out that
there exists a German standard "DIN 66234" on VDU-work places with a
special "Appendix 2" to its "Part 5":  "Coding of Information / color combina-

It has been approved by the German standards organisation DIN in Mai 1988
and its draft versions have been developed in the four preceeding years.

Some highlights:
"When applying color _carefully_ and _sparingly_ the following aspects are
in favor of its use:
-  by different colors different information categories can be separated
   fromeach other,  and - on the other hand - informational relations can
   be established
-  color can weight information
-  color can order and organize similar information, e.g. in tables and
-  color can support the learning and the recognition of complex proce-
-  color can enhance the search, retrieve and count of information items
-  color can guide the user's attention to certain areas of the VDU
-  color, especially the background color in differing (dark) hues, can
   support the distinction of and the change between different tasks
   and activities at the VDU, the ordering of long dialog sequences
   (e.g., in CBT-systems) and the fast classification and retrieval of
   information by "flipping" screen pages."

At the time of writing of the standard the most used vdu's had only very
few colors. Therefore there is only a recommendation for binary controlled
primary colors:

"Table 1: Use of color combinations for chararcters and background by
binary controlled primary colors"
background                        characters
color                               color

                 black white purpl blue  cyan  green yello red
black                    +     +     -     +     +     +     -
white              +           +     +     -     -     -     +
purple             +     +           -     -     -     -     -
blue               -     +     -           +     -     +     -
cyan               +     -     -     +           -     -     -
green              +     -     -     +     -           -     -
yellow             +     -     +     +     -     -           +
red                -     +     -     -     -     -     +
(end of quote)
There are some further remarks about mixed colors, about very large
symbols / icons and thick lines and about especially comfortable
combinations, but after my opinion these remarks are not the state
of the art any longer...

My personal experience: I would be grateful, if only these almost
antique recommendations were followed by the designers.

Peter Gorny

|                   Prof. Dr. Peter Gorny                  |
|       Computer Graphics & Software-Ergonomics Group      |
| Informatics Dept. - C. v. Ossietzky University Oldenburg |
| Voice:      +49-441-798-2901 or -4521         Fax: -2155 |

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1. Color considered harmful (Tufte reference )

  These are truly great books that, I believe, will be known as
  the first to outline the history of effective and innovative
  illustrations, and the first to offer a theory for judging the
  effectivness of illustrations to convey information.  Naturally I can
  remember only the author's last name: Tufte.

The books are:

   The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

   Envisioning Information

The author's full name is Edward R. Tufte and the publisher is
Graphics Press, PO Box 430, Cheshire, CT 06410.

These books are both informative and well designed.

John B. Carlucci

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