Response: The Subtleties of Color

This series on color lays out three important lessons I inherently already knew, but maybe wouldn’t have been able to articulate myself: the discrepancies of how we perceive color in the physical world compared to digital screens and how to translate these values; the components of color to focus on (namely, I was surprised to learn that ‘lightness’ is the strongest of the HLS values); and that datasets can be simplified down into the three categories of sequential, divergent, and qualitative data. These are all considerations to keep in mind (that I, for one, have not been) each coming with it’s own set of rules and principles to follow in order to best represent the information, and all make up the central message of the piece.

I thought there was something interesting about the strictness of these rules, however - the author briefly alludes to their lack if subtleties in a section titled “Aesthetics” in Part 4. Everything presented in this reading is very scientific with a practical, neurological basis but here, Simmon addresses that design includes so many other formal elements (typography, line, shape, alignment, etc) and that even if color rules are followed to a T, it doesn’t necessarily make for a “great” or even “good” design. Personal judgement is another factor that doesn’t come with an instruction manual. I’d be curious to hear others opinions on the import of this, how much aesthetic judgement should matter in relation to the goal of displaying information accurately. Can a visualization be considered “successful” if it is entirely technically accurate, yet has no aesthetic value?

I would also be interested in a discussion of the dilemma that color-blindness presents: should this be a consideration in every piece of design? Should all works be accessible to everyone, even if the percent of colorblind people is only 5%? I don’t have an answer myself,  though I would assume most people would say no, it is not vital to have all work be clear to everyone. I think it’s a noble goal though I think it would add an extra layer of difficulty to every project, and perhaps takes away from the possibilities that could be used if only designing for the other 95% of the population.

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