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A Gold and White (or Blue and Black) Dress Re-Focuses Marketers and Content Producers on COLOR

When you play with color, you manipulate minds. 

The entire Web world was maniacally focused on a crazy photograph of a gold and white dress yesterday (that’s what I saw – my son saw blue and black). It’s been covered ad nauseam, so I’m going to leave that alone.

The cool thing, however, is how we’re now all focused on color, photography and the unique effects color has on the eyes.

I’d like to add to the cool and introduce you to a book by Colin Wheildon called Type & Layout: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes. Follow the link and check out the “Just Making Pretty Shapes” visual that he uses on the cover.

This book is a classic for designers, copywriters, artists and everyone involved in publishing in print, on the web or anywhere else.

Color plays a large part in Wheildon’s discussions.

As with the gold and white dress, whenever you present color to readers or viewers, you’re tapping into some very complicated visual biology.

Wheildon’s book has some great discussions about what color does to the reader who comes across an advertisement designed to make him/her actually read it. One example, shows an article headline that uses high chroma red as the font color. High chroma color is something that almost all human eyes understand consistently, by the way. It’s not like the gold and white dress (blue and black! says my son).

Here’s a taste from p. 24:

“The introduction of spot color immediately boosts our potential readership to about 1.6 million — the color attracts the eye, brings readers to the advertisement! But, sadly, that very eye-catching ability works against comprehension of the text under it by constantly distracting readers. It does so to such a degree that the army who potentially could receive our message loudly and clearly is reduced to a mere division of about 272,000 — that’s 400,000 fewer than we started with and only one-sixth of the number of readers we attracted to look at our ad. And that should be enough to frighten anyone!”

Color, like fonts and the actual words we use in articles matters so much!

There are serious trade offs at play, and you need to consider them, especially now that we’re all publishers.

You should take a serious look at how color messes with your web site, too. When you play with color, you manipulate minds.

Here’s my other article on Colin Wheildon’s work: It also includes a discussion of Garr Reynolds’ excellent work Presentation Zen. 

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