Infographics are visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They use graphical elements like charts, maps, illustrations and other visuals along with minimal text to convey information in a way that is more engaging and accessible than pure text. Color plays a crucial role in infographic design and can greatly impact how effective an infographic is at communicating key information.
The Importance of Color in Infographic Design
Color is one of the most powerful tools in an infographic designer’s toolkit. The thoughtful use of color can draw attention to important points, differentiate elements, establish mood and tone, and make complex data more readable at a glance. Poor color choices or improper use of color, on the other hand, can obscire meaning, overwhelm the viewer, or make an infographic visually unappealing.
Some key reasons why color is so important for infographics include:
- Directs focus – Color contrasts can emphasize or de-emphasize parts of an infographic to control the viewer’s attention.
- Organizes information – Consistent color themes can visually connect related information.
- Communicates meaning – Colors can take on symbolic associations that convey meaning.
- Enhances readability – Careful color choices optimize readability of text and data.
- Establishes emotion – Colors can evoke emotional responses that communicate ideas.
- Increases appeal – Effective use of color makes an infographic more visually interesting.
With so much riding on color, it is essential for infographic designers to understand the basics of color theory and how to strategically leverage color for clearer communication and maximum appeal.
Color Theory Basics
There are a few key principles of color theory that provide a framework for choosing and working with color in infographic design:
The color wheel illustrates how colors relate to one another and how they can be combined. Complementary colors that are opposite on the wheel provide strong contrast while analogous colors near each other create harmony.
A color rarely appears by itself. The surrounding colors strongly influence how we perceive a color. Designers must consider a color in the context of other graphic elements.
Combinations of colors that create visual appeal when used together are known as color harmonies. Common harmonies like complementary, analogous, and triadic offer color schemes for infographics.
Cultural associations and psychological responses mean some colors communicate certain ideas better than others. Knowledge of general color meanings can inform color choices.
Mastering these basic principles gives designers greater control and flexibility in applying color effectively.
Choosing a Color Palette
One of the first steps in designing an infographic is choosing a color palette – the set of colors that will be used consistently throughout the visual. This provides visual cohesion while allowing color to better serve its communication roles. Considerations when selecting an infographic’s color palette include:
If the infographic relates to an existing company or organization, incorporating brand colors like logo hues builds connection to that brand.
Choose colors with symbolic associations that are relevant to the infographic topic or provide appropriate mood/tone.
Ensure enough contrast between text/data colors and background colors for legibility.
Use enough color variation to distinguish different graphic elements but not so much that the palette feels uncoordinated.
Balancing colors from different parts of the color wheel creates visual interest within a cohesive palette.
Testing colors to ensure they work together well is an important part of finalizing the palette.
Using Color to Organize Information
One of the key jobs color takes on in an infographic is organizing different information elements. This can include:
Assigning distinct colors to represent different categories or groups makes them easy to distinguish at a glance.
Using a sequence of light to dark colors represents quantitative differences or a range of numeric values.
Color connections can also show how different elements are related when used consistently. For example, always using blue for water-related data.
Directing Focus with Color
Color contrast is an effective way to guide viewers to important information in an infographic. Some ways to leverage color contrast include:
Emphasizing Key Points
Using brighter, bolder colors to highlight key statistics, facts, or takeaways visually separates them from the rest of the information.
More saturated colors give certain information visual priority and weight compared to secondary info colored more subtly.
Brighter complementary colors attract attention to callouts, titles, or other elements the designer wants viewed first.
However, high contrast should be used judiciously, as overly strong color differences can be jarring.
Optimizing text and data legibility should also inform color choices:
Text Color Contrast
Sufficient brightness contrast between text colors and background colors makes text easy to read.
More subtle, desaturated hues work best for dense, information-rich graphics to avoid visual clutter.
Certain color combinations are difficult for color blind viewers to distinguish, which should be accounted for.
Testing text and data colors against their background colors ensures readability.
Using Color Symbolism and Meaning
Because different colors provoke different psychological and emotional responses, color can communicate ideas symbolically. Some examples of using color meaning include:
Company brand colors evoke brand personality – red and black may signal boldness, green and blue signal trust.
Warm colors like red and orange feel more urgent than cool blues and greens.
Color choices like bright yellow can convey cheerfulness, purple can convey luxury.
Relying on symbolism helps choose design colors that reinforce the infographic’s message.
Best Practices for Infographic Color Use
Some best practices to optimize use of color for infographic design include:
- Limit palette to 2-4 core colors
- Ensure sufficient contrast between adjacent colors
- Use color consistently and logically
- Make key points stand out with bold, bright colors
- Use muted hues for context and supporting info
- Test text/data legibility
- Consider color symbolism and meaning
Careful planning and strategic use of color, grounded in the fundamentals of color theory, can take infographic design to the next level both visually and in terms of communication impact.
Color is an extremely valuable tool for infographic design. When leveraged intentionally, it organizes information, emphasizes key points, enhances readability, and adds visual interest. However, poor color choices can potentially hinder communication or make an infographic visually unappealing. Utilizing principles of color theory provides guidance on selecting, coordinating, and applying color to optimize an infographic’s look and effectiveness. With so much riding on color, infographic designers must be thoughtful and strategic when deciding how to leverage it to bring visual clarity and appeal to complex data stories.