13 Comments

  1. Kathleen Lynch says:

    Ann,
    I find your blog posts so helpful, and I am humbled by the generosity with which you are willing to share your wisdom with the masses! After 30+ years in evaluation, I just learned how to do pivot tables in Excel, courtesy of your excellent video clips. Thank you so much.

    1. Ann K. Emery says:

      Kathleen, thank you! How were you analyzing data before pivot tables?

  2. I definitely agree that you usually want to use your client’s branding in your charts, I would like to explain that if your client is smart, they will have a GOOD template WITH THEIR BRANDING COLORS BUILT IN. The problem is, of course, many template builders don’t know what they’re doing and don’t incorporate the client’s colors so they show up in the chart (and other) galleries in Excel, PowerPoint and Word. To learn how to build PowerPoint templates (and Office Themes, which can then be applied to Word and Excel also) to incorporate these features, please check our book, Building PowerPoint Templates: Step by Step with the Experts. http://tinyurl.com/9bn2bhc

  3. This blog post might also be helpful when considering theme colors for PowerPoint, Excel and Word. http://speakingppt.com/2012/12/21/how-to-create-a-custom-color-palette-in-powerpoint/

    1. Ann K. Emery says:

      Echo, thanks for your ideas and resources. Your book looks great too.

  4. Phil says:

    Adobe Kuler is a fun tool for creating your own color palettes. I’ve used this for reports when I need a fresh color approach, something seasonal, and when proposal writing.
    https://kuler.adobe.com/
    Happy kulering!

    1. Ann K. Emery says:

      Phil, thanks for mentioning Adobe Kuler. Are you using Kuler to match your reports and proposals to the client’s color scheme? Or to find other types of palettes, like how I use Design-Seeds?

      1. Phil says:

        Personally, I use clients’ brand specifications for any color implementation on their projects. If a client/project/proposal doesn’t have specifications, using a color-picker tool on their logo or website works ok.
        Kuler has user contributed, upvoted palettes. They provide great ideas for color palettes that work well. Another fun feature is the ability to upload an image (like a colorful beach scene, or a concert, etc.) and Kuler goes through pixel by pixel to find the colors that work well with one another.

  5. Glenna Shaw says:

    Another (frequently overlooked) consideration when chosing colors is whether members of your intended audience are color blind. Using logo colors is great branding but not so useful if it obscures the information for a portion of your audience. My organzation has approximately 12% – 15% persons who are color blind and a simple blue logo. So while I do use blue most of the time, I also used the resources that Echo mentioned earlier to create a color-blind friendly color scheme for Office using an extended range of colors.

  6. Thanks for the tips, Ann. Using colours intentionally sure makes slides look better!
    Stephanie Evergreen also has a post about various colour-picking tools (as does Bruce Gabrielle, author of Speaking PPT), such as Adobe Kuler (mentioned above):
    https://bitly.com/1m1gnIf

  7. […] Whether you’re going to stick with a default color scheme (please, NO) or customize your color palette to match your client’s brand […]

  8. Harjinder Paaji says:

    Great and a very helpful blog. Keep sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Intentional Color Schemes

Jun 13th, 2014 / Data Visualization / , , ,

I’ve got a lot of dataviz skeletons in my closet. This beauty comes from my second week as an evaluator:
custom-color-palette-before.png
Border, grid lines, tick marks…. A legend instead of direct labeling… A generic title instead of a “so what?” title… You get the idea.
Today I want to focus on intentional color schemes. The client’s logo was blue and green. Why’d we use those oranges? Because we’d been using Excel’s blues in other reports and wanted to try something new. Um, yeah. It was an honest effort. Somehow default oranges seemed better. That was the extent of intentionality in my charts.
Now that I know what I’m doing…
It’s no longer my second week in evaluation. Follow the Data Visualization Checklist and we’ll hang out in the now-we-know-better club together.
Here’s what Stephanie Evergreen and I laid out in the Checklist: Color scheme is intentional  means that Color schemes should represent brand or other intentional choice, not default color schemes. A safe bet for consultants is to use your client’s colors.
How’d my original chart score? 0/2 points, no surprise there.
So not this:
custom-color-palette-bad-ideas
But Ann do you have examples of color schemes done well? Great question. You bet.

Matching the American Evaluation Association’s Logo

I recently made a video about AEA’s Data Visualization and Reporting topical interest group. The video debuts on www.aea365.org later this month. I want viewers to remember that I’m talking about a dataviz group within AEA. Crazy idea, I know I know. The video’s word cloud, circle chart, bar chart, and line chart matched AEA’s classic burgundy.
Intentional Color Scheme: 2/2 points
custom-color-palette-example-2

Matching the Working Families Success Network’s Logo

Johanna Morariu and I were evaluating the Working Families Success Network’s conference. When we designed the slide report, the obvious choice was to match their logo instead of Innovation Network’s logo. (Full publication: http://workingfamiliessuccess.com/wp-content/uploads/wfsn13_presentation_final_pres.pdf.)
Intentional Color Scheme: 2/2 points
custom-color-palette-example-1

Matching Your Consulting Firm’s Logo

Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to match charts to your own consulting firm’s logo, like when you’re writing a publication that’ll come directly from your firm. In this example, I matched the dot plot, bar charts, and unit charts to the publication’s existing color palette. (Full publication: www.innonet.org/resources/files/innonet-coalition-assessment.pdf.)
Intentional Color Scheme: 2/2 points
custom-color-palette-example-6

Matching… Nobody’s?… Logo

Agata Jose-Ivanina and I led a dashboard webinar last year. We didn’t need to match the charts and diagrams to any specific logo. I visited www.design-seeds.com, selected a palette, and matched our workshop materials to those RGB codes. (More slides: https://depictdatastudio.com/portfolio/dashboards-estudy/.)
Intentional Color Scheme: 2/2 points
custom-color-palette-example-5

Matching George Mason’s Logo

Maybe you’re a student and not a consultant. Easy: Match your maps, bar charts, timelines, diagrams, and tables to your university’s logo.
Intentional Color Scheme: 2/2 points
custom-color-palette-example-3

I know what I’m doing but still ignore guidelines sometimes…

What does a “1” look like on our Data Visualization Checklist?
I showed you my proposal defense. One day it was time for my full defense. But. I hate green and yellow.
So I cheated and used blue and purple instead. Even though this slide scheme was easier for me to look at, it doesn’t deserve full points on the Data Visualization Checklist.
Intentional Color Scheme: 1/2 points
custom-color-palette-example-4
 
Stephanie Evergreen and I are both illustrating examples from our Data Visualization Checklist. Check out Stephanie’s examples at stephanieevergreen.com/tag/data-visualization-checklist. Her latest post is on using labels sparingly: http://stephanieevergreen.com/labels-are-used-sparingly/.
In two weeks, you’ll see a remake from my workshop attendee and new friend Stephen Alexander. His remade chart matches his organization’s colors perfectly. In the meantime, how are you using intentional color schemes in your charts?
 

13 Comments

  1. Kathleen Lynch says:

    Ann,
    I find your blog posts so helpful, and I am humbled by the generosity with which you are willing to share your wisdom with the masses! After 30+ years in evaluation, I just learned how to do pivot tables in Excel, courtesy of your excellent video clips. Thank you so much.

    1. Ann K. Emery says:

      Kathleen, thank you! How were you analyzing data before pivot tables?

  2. I definitely agree that you usually want to use your client’s branding in your charts, I would like to explain that if your client is smart, they will have a GOOD template WITH THEIR BRANDING COLORS BUILT IN. The problem is, of course, many template builders don’t know what they’re doing and don’t incorporate the client’s colors so they show up in the chart (and other) galleries in Excel, PowerPoint and Word. To learn how to build PowerPoint templates (and Office Themes, which can then be applied to Word and Excel also) to incorporate these features, please check our book, Building PowerPoint Templates: Step by Step with the Experts. http://tinyurl.com/9bn2bhc

  3. This blog post might also be helpful when considering theme colors for PowerPoint, Excel and Word. http://speakingppt.com/2012/12/21/how-to-create-a-custom-color-palette-in-powerpoint/

    1. Ann K. Emery says:

      Echo, thanks for your ideas and resources. Your book looks great too.

  4. Phil says:

    Adobe Kuler is a fun tool for creating your own color palettes. I’ve used this for reports when I need a fresh color approach, something seasonal, and when proposal writing.
    https://kuler.adobe.com/
    Happy kulering!

    1. Ann K. Emery says:

      Phil, thanks for mentioning Adobe Kuler. Are you using Kuler to match your reports and proposals to the client’s color scheme? Or to find other types of palettes, like how I use Design-Seeds?

      1. Phil says:

        Personally, I use clients’ brand specifications for any color implementation on their projects. If a client/project/proposal doesn’t have specifications, using a color-picker tool on their logo or website works ok.
        Kuler has user contributed, upvoted palettes. They provide great ideas for color palettes that work well. Another fun feature is the ability to upload an image (like a colorful beach scene, or a concert, etc.) and Kuler goes through pixel by pixel to find the colors that work well with one another.

  5. Glenna Shaw says:

    Another (frequently overlooked) consideration when chosing colors is whether members of your intended audience are color blind. Using logo colors is great branding but not so useful if it obscures the information for a portion of your audience. My organzation has approximately 12% – 15% persons who are color blind and a simple blue logo. So while I do use blue most of the time, I also used the resources that Echo mentioned earlier to create a color-blind friendly color scheme for Office using an extended range of colors.

  6. Thanks for the tips, Ann. Using colours intentionally sure makes slides look better!
    Stephanie Evergreen also has a post about various colour-picking tools (as does Bruce Gabrielle, author of Speaking PPT), such as Adobe Kuler (mentioned above):
    https://bitly.com/1m1gnIf

  7. […] Whether you’re going to stick with a default color scheme (please, NO) or customize your color palette to match your client’s brand […]

  8. Harjinder Paaji says:

    Great and a very helpful blog. Keep sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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