Colour in Data Visualisation

Data Visualisation Week: Day Five

With everything that we’ve covered this week, usage of colour in data viz can seem like a minor detail but its true impact often goes underestimated. In fact, it can have a make-or-break effect on your viewer’s interpretation. The misuse of a simple green or a red can ruin all your extraction work and change the interpretation that your reader will have, perhaps for the worse. Intensity of certain colours is also something to look out for. Indeed, a soft colour for example, will be hard to read and study. When you are comparing several data sets, it is essential to choose colors that are reflective of the relationship the sets have. For instance, when making a visual poll for the popularity of two electoral candidates it is easy to create confusion if the colours used to represent opposing parties only differ slightly as opposed to being on opposite ends of the colour wheel.

Case I: Clarity Way’s strange use of colour

Clarity Way’s Financial Cost of Drug Addiction uses a mix of colours that makes little sense upon closer inspection. Here, we are to assume that they are representing percentages constituting a whole, which is not the case.

Case II: StatusToday’s Anomalies Heatmap

In this visualisation, the message is not only captured using the appropriate colour (red is generally used to denote dangerous elements) but also varying shades in order to display levels of urgency (the darker the more urgent).

← Previous | Day 4: Enabling Data Driven Decisions

That’s it for Data Visualisation Week (at least until the next one)! We hope you took something valuable out of this series and that you enjoyed some great visualisations in the process. As always, we are offering access to our live demo so if you want to learn more about how you can drive greater engagement in your company and see some great visuals as well, head on over to our website and give it a spin!

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