What do your color choices say about your data?Jun 14, 2022
If you're not thinking about color in your data visualizations, you're leaving your data high and dry.
The color choices you make when presenting data matter. Color conveys both tone and meaning, and if you're not thinking about your color choices, you could be leading your audience astray or at the very least not giving your data the best presentation.
What tone is reflected in each of these three graphs?
The first graph is in different shades of grey on a white background, this conveys a clean, minimalistic, and neutral tone.
The second graph is on a pale blue background with teal, green, and orange used for the different lines. These colors convey an energetic, playful tone.
The third graph is mostly grey with one line highlighted in green on a white background. The green highlight color conveys a tone of growth while the greys contribute to a neutral tone.
When you select colors for your data visualizations, think about the tone of those colors and the tone you want to convey with your data. Pick colors that align with the tone.
If you're looking for a bold tone, pick strong, dark colors. If you're looking for a light tone, use pale colors. Don't use playful or cutesy colors for serious topics - the tone of the data will not align with the tone of the colors.
Colors also have meaning and that meaning differs from culture to culture. When associated with numbers, red generally implies negative and green generally implies positive. So, if your data shows an increase, don't use red to highlight the values, use green instead.