Rather than just an aesthetic choice, the colors used in charts and graphs can actually impact the interpretation of data—colors can either mislead or aid in understanding. Amy Balliett shows you examples of some common mistakes in color usage on charts and graphs, and explains how to correct them.
- [Narrator] While colors are mainly chosen based on what looks good, what matches a brand and how they may subconsciously impact a viewer, an essential item to consider is how colors are used in charts and graphs. This choice can vastly impact how your audience interprets their data. Take a look at this bar graph and this pie chart, as an example. While they seem simple enough, the color choices convolute the data rather than simplify it. The bar graph, for example, is using a myriad of colors.
We are taught to use graphs to better understand data and information, but this can often leave us searching for meaning in every part of the visual. By making each bar a different color, one might assume that each color has its own meaning, as well. This could lead to a lot of confusion, making it harder to interpret the data just because the designer chose to add color for aesthetic reasons. We call this, putting form over function. Now, let's look at that pie chart.
The pie chart looks clean, but the color usage makes it confusing on the eyes. You might not even be able to pinpoint the exact problem, but it's probably gnawing at you. If you still can't see it, here are a series of other charts committing the same color mistake. In all of these examples, one thing holds true. The lighter color is acting as the fill color. While it seems small, look at what happens when the colors are flipped and now the darker color acts as that fill color.
It's funny how such a subtle choice can make such a large difference. You see, our eyes are used to a visual contrast filling an empty space. When designing charts that use this method of attack, always be sure to make the fill color be the darker color. We visualize data to make it easier to understand. If you choose wisely, you can use color to better communicate your message and further simplify things for your audience.
To succeed in design and marketing today, one must know how to interpret and properly visualize data. This course, developed and led by Killer Infographics CEO, Amy Balliett, walks you through the ins and outs of creating accurate and compelling data visualizations. Amy focuses on best practices, not tools, although she does provide an overview of Illustrator graphing features. Using these tips, you'll learn how to stand out from the crowd and create charts and graphs that combine precision with visual appeal.
- What charts and graphs work best for different types of data
- Putting data into visual and textual context to ensure it is accurate
- Visualizing data that doesn't lend itself to imagery
- Adding visual appeal without sacrificing accuracy
- Using the Adobe Illustrator graphing tools
- Avoiding common data viz mistakes