Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

Expand Messages
  • Cummins, Darin
    Rob, We have a vertical market application that we have branded entirely different than any OS scheme. We don t use any System defined colors anywhere. In
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 6, 2005
    • 0 Attachment

      Rob,

       

      We have a vertical market application that we have branded entirely different than any OS scheme.  We don’t use any “System” defined colors anywhere.  In my opinion, there are a number of factors in determining whether to use system values or branding, but for me the most important is the use of the application.  If the application is something that is used along with other applications (i.e. Word, Excel, etc.) then the user experience should be as clean and seamless as possible and therefore should probably use the system colors.

       

      On the other hand, if the application is meant to be a large scale application (like ours) where the user spends most of their time in the application (point of sale, etc.) then I think branding is not only appropriate, but necessary to enhance the user experience.  The only question then is what the branding should look like and how it best solves problems for the user as well as your company.  Branding and color schemes done well can make a product much more appealing and hence, more sellable.  However, there are many hundreds of products out there that have gotten it wrong and are just plain UGLY!

       

      --Darin

       

       

       

       


      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Rob Keefer
      Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 12:41 PM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

       

      It's been quiet for a couple days, so I thought I'd relate an experience I had a couple of weeks ago and get feedback from you all...

       

      I've been pulled in to help with the UX design on a MS-Windows desktop application that is in the early throws of development. This is a business application that will be sold to companies. In the initial meeting with the customer and the lead developer, I made some comments around using color to visually indicate changes or features.

       

      The lead developer became very upset when I mentioned specifying colors (like background colors, colors of buttons, etc.) He is demanding that we use System colors (such as ActiveBorder, Control, ControlDark, Window, etc.) rather than specify colors to help brand the application. His reasoning for using the System colors is that if/when people change the Color Scheme on their desktop, everything will still look right and it will respond like a "real Windows app".

       

      The customer feels that branding is important since the app will (hopefully) be sold and used in many different companies throughout the U.S. The developer was so adamant about using System colors that he didn't really give the customer a chance to disagree.

       

      I don't know if their a "right" answer to this question. Obviously, one right answer is to do what the customer wants. But it got me thinking ...

       

      1. Have their been any studies that indicate which way is "better"? (Total customization, Total System Colors, mix of both ...)

      2. Has anyone made a similar decision, and how did you decide which way to go?

      3. What are some of the real/perceived benefits of one way versus the other?

       

      - Rob

       

       

       


      This message and any attachments are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If the reader of the message is not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the message and any attachments from your system.

    • Tim Wright
      There are several problems with using application-defined colours (rather than system-defined colours). The first is consistancy (and this was alluded to in
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 6, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        There are several problems with using application-defined colours (rather than system-defined colours).

        The first is consistancy (and this was alluded to in the first post in this thread). If you application is inconsistant with other applications a user users they might have trouble learning and understanding your application. This isn't so important if (as mentioned earlier) your application is the only one people will ever use.

        The second (and IMHO, more important) problem is related to people with visual impairments. There are so many different kinds of visual disabilities people can have that designing a colour scheme to suit everyone is next to impossible (this is why windowing systems let you choose your own colours).

        Finally (and related to the second), is the difference in display units. People using older laptop displays might need a high-contrast colour scheme just to identify the different parts of the application. People using a modern screen might not. Someone might have a broken screen that can't display, for example, blue. They might have tweaked their colour scheme so they can still use their computer.

        So, I'd argue that if you can control everything about a user's environment (including their level of visual impairment) then use custom colours. Otherwise, don't.

        On 07/10/05, Cummins, Darin <Darin_Cummins@...> wrote:

        We have a vertical market application that we have branded entirely different than any OS scheme.  We don't use any "System" defined colors anywhere.  In my opinion, there are a number of factors in determining whether to use system values or branding, but for me the most important is the use of the application.  If the application is something that is used along with other applications (i.e. Word, Excel, etc.) then the user experience should be as clean and seamless as possible and therefore should probably use the system colors.




        --
        Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero ai tiki tāua.
      • Sue Heim
        Isn t the customer always right? I think the developer may have had a point, back in the Windows 3.1 days. But more and more desktop applications are branded,
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 6, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          Isn't the customer always right?

          I think the developer may have had a point, back in the Windows 3.1 days.
          But more and more desktop applications are branded, at least to some
          respect. Background colors, colors of buttons... none of these will really
          conflict with the colors the user specifies.

          FWIW, I don't know of any actual studies. But of all the people I know who
          work on Windows computers, I am the ONLY one who changes the colors of some
          of the UI elements (the active title bar, especially).

          But again, the customer's wants should take precedence over what the
          developer wants to do. Besides demanding and claiming colors will conflict,
          did he (?) give any real reasons for why he didn't want to allow this
          change?

          ...sue



          >From: "Jon Meads" <jon.meads@...>
          >Reply-To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          >To: <agile-usability@yahoogroups.com>
          >Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors
          >Date: Thu, 6 Oct 2005 11:52:45 -0700
          >
          >Rob,
          >
          >This is a great example of a developer intimidating the customer.
          >
          >Without knowing more about the dynamics, I would venture to state that it
          >is
          >really up to the customer to decide what has the most value to him - being
          >consistent with System Colors or "branding". A missing piece of information
          >that might help to make a good decision is to determine how many of the
          >targeted end users change their color scheme. The developer may have a
          >point
          >if the colors that are being selected for the brand don't work well with
          >the
          >large majority of alternate color schemes that Windows makes available. But
          >my inclination would be to go with customer needs/values as the default.
          >
          >Cheers,
          >jon
          >
          >
          > _____
          >
          >From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          >[mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Rob Keefer
          >Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 11:41 AM
          >To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          >Subject: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors
          >
          >
          >It's been quiet for a couple days, so I thought I'd relate an experience I
          >had a couple of weeks ago and get feedback from you all...
          >
          >I've been pulled in to help with the UX design on a MS-Windows desktop
          >application that is in the early throws of development. This is a business
          >application that will be sold to companies. In the initial meeting with the
          >customer and the lead developer, I made some comments around using color to
          >visually indicate changes or features.
          >
          >The lead developer became very upset when I mentioned specifying colors
          >(like background colors, colors of buttons, etc.) He is demanding that we
          >use System colors (such as ActiveBorder, Control, ControlDark, Window,
          >etc.)
          >rather than specify colors to help brand the application. His reasoning for
          >using the System colors is that if/when people change the Color Scheme on
          >their desktop, everything will still look right and it will respond like a
          >"real Windows app".
          >
          >The customer feels that branding is important since the app will
          >(hopefully)
          >be sold and used in many different companies throughout the U.S. The
          >developer was so adamant about using System colors that he didn't really
          >give the customer a chance to disagree.
          >
          >I don't know if their a "right" answer to this question. Obviously, one
          >right answer is to do what the customer wants. But it got me thinking ...
          >
          >1. Have their been any studies that indicate which way is "better"? (Total
          >customization, Total System Colors, mix of both ...)
          >2. Has anyone made a similar decision, and how did you decide which way to
          >go?
          >3. What are some of the real/perceived benefits of one way versus the
          >other?
          >
          >- Rob
        • Rob Keefer
          Some of the developers arguments went along the lines of Tim s post earlier regarding color blindness, screen size, etc. However, by introducing icons,
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 9, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            Some of the developers arguments went along the lines of Tim's post earlier regarding color blindness, screen size, etc. However, by introducing icons, maintaining strong contrast between background and foreground, etc. you can get around many of the color problems. (A red X for Cancel and a green O for Continue look different even in grey scale.)
             
            My experience up to now has been an all-or-nothing approach. Either specify the color for everything or nothing at all. When you go part way you may forget something. I saw a clear example of this once, where the developer had specified a font color to be black, and left the background to be a system color. Unfortunately, a user changed her system preferences to have the background be black and the text be white. When she ran this program, she could not see any text and wondered why the program "wasn't working" for her.
             
            This is why I asked the question in the first place. I was hoping to gain a few more reference points to base such a decision on in the future. For this project in particular, I'm sure we will go with system colors in the first release, and see where it goes from there.
             
            Thanks for the input.
             
            - Rob
             


            Sue Heim <sue_heim@...> wrote:
            Isn't the customer always right?

            I think the developer may have had a point, back in the Windows 3.1 days.
            But more and more desktop applications are branded, at least to some
            respect. Background colors, colors of buttons... none of these will really
            conflict with the colors the user specifies.

            FWIW, I don't know of any actual studies. But of all the people I know who
            work on Windows computers, I am the ONLY one who changes the colors of some
            of the UI elements (the active title bar, especially).

            But again, the customer's wants should take precedence over what the
            developer wants to do. Besides demanding and claiming colors will conflict,
            did he (?) give any real reasons for why he didn't want to allow this
            change?

            ...sue



            >From: "Jon Meads" <jon.meads@...>
            >Reply-To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            >To: <agile-usability@yahoogroups.com>
            >Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors
            >Date: Thu, 6 Oct 2005 11:52:45 -0700
            >
            >Rob,
            >
            >This is a great example of a developer intimidating the customer.
            >
            >Without knowing more about the dynamics, I would venture to state that it
            >is
            >really up to the customer to decide what has the most value to him - being
            >consistent with System Colors or "branding". A missing piece of information
            >that might help to make a good decision is to determine how many of the
            >targeted end users change their color scheme. The developer may have a
            >point
            >if the colors that are being selected for the brand don't work well with
            >the
            >large majority of alternate color schemes that Windows makes available. But
            >my inclination would be to go with customer needs/values as the default.
            >
            >Cheers,
            >jon
            >
            >
            >   _____
            >
            >From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            >[mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Rob Keefer
            >Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 11:41 AM
            >To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            >Subject: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors
            >
            >
            >It's been quiet for a couple days, so I thought I'd relate an experience I
            >had a couple of weeks ago and get feedback from you all...
            >
            >I've been pulled in to help with the UX design on a MS-Windows desktop
            >application that is in the early throws of development. This is a business
            >application that will be sold to companies. In the initial meeting with the
            >customer and the lead developer, I made some comments around using color to
            >visually indicate changes or features.
            >
            >The lead developer became very upset when I mentioned specifying colors
            >(like background colors, colors of buttons, etc.) He is demanding that we
            >use System colors (such as ActiveBorder, Control, ControlDark, Window,
            >etc.)
            >rather than specify colors to help brand the application. His reasoning for
            >using the System colors is that if/when people change the Color Scheme on
            >their desktop, everything will still look right and it will respond like a
            >"real Windows app".
            >
            >The customer feels that branding is important since the app will
            >(hopefully)
            >be sold and used in many different companies throughout the U.S. The
            >developer was so adamant about using System colors that he didn't really
            >give the customer a chance to disagree.
            >
            >I don't know if their a "right" answer to this question. Obviously, one
            >right answer is to do what the customer wants. But it got me thinking ...
            >
            >1. Have their been any studies that indicate which way is "better"? (Total
            >customization, Total System Colors, mix of both ...)
            >2. Has anyone made a similar decision, and how did you decide which way to
            >go?
            >3. What are some of the real/perceived benefits of one way versus the
            >other?
            >
            >- Rob


          • Jerome Ryckborst
            ... What s you re talking about is what Cooper and Reimann call posture in their book, About Face 2.0. I did a quick Google search, and here s a 1-page
            Message 5 of 10 , Oct 12, 2005
            • 0 Attachment
              Darin wrote:
              > a large scale application [...]
               
              What's you're talking about is what Cooper and Reimann call "posture" in their book, About Face 2.0. I did a quick Google search, and here's a 1-page plagiarised version of the relevant chapter:
               
              -=- Jerome


              From: Cummins, Darin [mailto:Darin_Cummins@...]
              Sent: October 06, 2005 12:33 PM
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

              Rob,

               

              We have a vertical market application that we have branded entirely different than any OS scheme.  We don’t use any “System” defined colors anywhere.  In my opinion, there are a number of factors in determining whether to use system values or branding, but for me the most important is the use of the application.  If the application is something that is used along with other applications (i.e. Word, Excel, etc.) then the user experience should be as clean and seamless as possible and therefore should probably use the system colors.

               

              On the other hand, if the application is meant to be a large scale application (like ours) where the user spends most of their time in the application (point of sale, etc.) then I think branding is not only appropriate, but necessary to enhance the user experience.  The only question then is what the branding should look like and how it best solves problems for the user as well as your company.  Branding and color schemes done well can make a product much more appealing and hence, more sellable.  However, there are many hundreds of products out there that have gotten it wrong and are just plain UGLY!

               

              --Darin

               

               

               

               


              From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Rob Keefer
              Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 12:41 PM
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

               

              It's been quiet for a couple days, so I thought I'd relate an experience I had a couple of weeks ago and get feedback from you all...

               

              I've been pulled in to help with the UX design on a MS-Windows desktop application that is in the early throws of development. This is a business application that will be sold to companies. In the initial meeting with the customer and the lead developer, I made some comments around using color to visually indicate changes or features.

               

              The lead developer became very upset when I mentioned specifying colors (like background colors, colors of buttons, etc.) He is demanding that we use System colors (such as ActiveBorder, Control, ControlDark, Window, etc.) rather than specify colors to help brand the application. His reasoning for using the System colors is that if/when people change the Color Scheme on their desktop, everything will still look right and it will respond like a "real Windows app".

               

              The customer feels that branding is important since the app will (hopefully) be sold and used in many different companies throughout the U.S. The developer was so adamant about using System colors that he didn't really give the customer a chance to disagree.

               

              I don't know if their a "right" answer to this question. Obviously, one right answer is to do what the customer wants. But it got me thinking ...

               

              1. Have their been any studies that indicate which way is "better"? (Total customization, Total System Colors, mix of both ...)

              2. Has anyone made a similar decision, and how did you decide which way to go?

              3. What are some of the real/perceived benefits of one way versus the other?

               

              - Rob

               

               

               


              This message and any attachments are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If the reader of the message is not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the message and any attachments from your system.

            • Cummins, Darin
              This is a good article. To put it in to the terms of the article, our application falls into the sovereign category. My post compared sovereign and
              Message 6 of 10 , Oct 13, 2005
              • 0 Attachment

                This is a good article.  To put it in to the terms of the article, our application falls into the “sovereign” category.  My post compared “sovereign” and “transient” where I believe sovereign applications can and maybe should be branded where transient applications definitely should adhere to a look that the user is experiencing when running other transient applications.

                 

                --Darin

                 

                 


                From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Jerome Ryckborst
                Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 5:29 PM
                To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

                 

                Darin wrote:

                > a large scale application [...]

                 

                What's you're talking about is what Cooper and Reimann call "posture" in their book, About Face 2.0. I did a quick Google search, and here's a 1-page plagiarised version of the relevant chapter:

                http://www.mines.edu/~crader/cs498/TextNotes/ch-08.html

                 

                -=- Jerome


                This message and any attachments are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If the reader of the message is not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the message and any attachments from your system.

              • Jerome Ryckborst
                Is usability agile? If so (and I hope so!) then at the risk of sounding nerdy, the Cooper and Reimann book, About Face 2.0, is a pleasure to read when you re
                Message 7 of 10 , Oct 13, 2005
                • 0 Attachment
                  Is usability agile?
                   
                  If so (and I hope so!) then at the risk of sounding nerdy, the Cooper and Reimann book, About Face 2.0, is a pleasure to read when you're bored. Each chapter pretty much stands alone, and there's SO MUCH of interest to developers who care about the user interface.
                   
                  -=- Jerome


                  From: Cummins, Darin [mailto:Darin_Cummins@...]
                  Sent: October 13, 2005 8:11 AM
                  To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

                  This is a good article.  To put it in to the terms of the article, our application falls into the “sovereign” category.  My post compared “sovereign” and “transient” where I believe sovereign applications can and maybe should be branded where transient applications definitely should adhere to a look that the user is experiencing when running other transient applications.

                   

                  --Darin

                   

                   


                  From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Jerome Ryckborst
                  Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 5:29 PM
                  To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

                   

                  Darin wrote:

                  > a large scale application [...]

                   

                  What's you're talking about is what Cooper and Reimann call "posture" in their book, About Face 2.0. I did a quick Google search, and here's a 1-page plagiarised version of the relevant chapter:

                  http://www.mines.edu/~crader/cs498/TextNotes/ch-08.html

                   

                  -=- Jerome


                  This message and any attachments are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If the reader of the message is not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the message and any attachments from your system.

                • Desilets, Alain
                  I haven t read About Face, but I have read The Inmates are Running the Asylum and I can say that what that book proposes is as far from agile as can
                  Message 8 of 10 , Oct 13, 2005
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Message
                    I haven't read "About" Face, but I have read "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" and I can say that what that book proposes is as far from agile as can possibly be. In fact, towards the end of the book there is a nice little diagram that looks dangerously like the good old waterfall model.
                     
                    I could rant on for hours about this, but that's bad for my health ;-).

                    Alain Désilets, MASc
                    Agent de recherches/Research Officer
                    Institut de technologie de l'information du CNRC /
                    NRC Institute for Information Technology

                    alain.desilets@...
                    Tél/Tel (613) 990-2813
                    Facsimile/télécopieur: (613) 952-7151

                    Conseil national de recherches Canada, M50, 1200 chemin Montréal,
                    Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0R6
                    National Research Council Canada, M50, 1200 Montreal Rd., Ottawa, ON
                    K1A 0R6

                    Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada

                     

                     
                     
                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jerome Ryckborst
                    Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 2:04 PM
                    To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

                    Is usability agile?
                     
                    If so (and I hope so!) then at the risk of sounding nerdy, the Cooper and Reimann book, About Face 2.0, is a pleasure to read when you're bored. Each chapter pretty much stands alone, and there's SO MUCH of interest to developers who care about the user interface.
                     
                    -=- Jerome


                    From: Cummins, Darin [mailto:Darin_Cummins@...]
                    Sent: October 13, 2005 8:11 AM
                    To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

                    This is a good article.  To put it in to the terms of the article, our application falls into the “sovereign” category.  My post compared “sovereign” and “transient” where I believe sovereign applications can and maybe should be branded where transient applications definitely should adhere to a look that the user is experiencing when running other transient applications.

                     

                    --Darin

                     

                     


                    From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Jerome Ryckborst
                    Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 5:29 PM
                    To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Specifying Colors vs System Colors

                     

                    Darin wrote:

                    > a large scale application [...]

                     

                    What's you're talking about is what Cooper and Reimann call "posture" in their book, About Face 2.0. I did a quick Google search, and here's a 1-page plagiarised version of the relevant chapter:

                    http://www.mines.edu/~crader/cs498/TextNotes/ch-08.html

                     

                    -=- Jerome


                    This message and any attachments are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If the reader of the message is not the intended recipient or an authorized representative of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail and delete the message and any attachments from your system.

                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.