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  1. #1
    Platinum Lounger
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    good set of colours for a GUI form

    How do I determine a "good" set of colours for a GUI form?

    I am in the habit of playing with my Fun4X stuff that changes the colours at random for the Background, Foreground and Font. Below I reproduce some RGB values for combinations that are pleasing to MY eye. The trailing nine entries are the ones that count, if you want to play.

    More importantly, I KNOW that dark red text on a dark blue background is pretty well unreadable.

    Has anyone worked out a method/formula for producing a readable set of colours?

    A simple example: Form background - white = 255,255,255
    Control background - white = 255, 255, 255
    Control foreground - black = 0, 0, 0
    is OK.

    The white/black is a good contrast.

    There must be an arts student out there somewhere just done a PHD thesis on an algorithm to start with one RGB combination and methodically pick out the other two RGB combinations that won't clash in terms of visibility.

    Aesthetics don't worry me. Puke on Lilac is OK, as long as it stands out.

    O.T.O.H. I love Vermillion and I love Ultramarine, but together they are unreadable.



    Colours= 0| 256| 216| 213| 203| 142| 8| 69| 185| 78| 114|
    Colours= 0| 256| 190| 184| 242| 251| 46| 88| 131| 57| 226|
    Colours= 0| 256| 99| 211| 165| 123| 0| 142| 252| 30| 97|
    Colours= 0| 256| 235| 181| 95| 191| 50| 12| 24| 148| 239|
    Colours= 0| 256| 138| 47| 15| 246| 220| 197| 228| 237| 207|
    Colours= 0| 256| 143| 150| 135| 78| 29| 113| 162| 55| 241|
    Colours= 0| 256| 131| 98| 58| 192| 185| 27| 61| 113| 184|
    Colours= 0| 256| 21| 253| 148| 211| 56| 18| 26| 52| 132|
    Colours= 0| 256| 41| 228| 102| 25| 70| 25| 3| 208| 185|
    Colours= 0| 256| 223| 246| 113| 114| 12| 152| 89| 148| 86|
    Colours= 0| 256| 8| 188| 111| 91| 58| 161| 140| 222| 99|
    Colours= 0| 256| 239| 203| 28| 102| 2| 47| 86| 200| 233|
    Colours= 0| 256| 177| 75| 53| 126| 256| 19| 253| 3| 23|
    Colours= 0| 256| 252| 116| 107| 94| 48| 39| 171| 213| 99|
    Colours= 0| 256| 38| 9| 226| 2| 22| 43| 231| 243| 122|
    Colours= 0| 256| 145| 199| 238| 78| 32| 132| 182| 57| 213|
    Colours=0| 256| 235| 181| 95| 191| 50| 12| 24| 148| 239|
    Colours=0| 0| 255| 255| 255| 0| 0| 0| 0|0| 0| Black and White
    Colours=0| 0| 255| 255| 255| 0| 0| 0| 255| 255| 255| Black and White
    Colours= 0| 256| 244| 215| 144| 109| 45| 153| 69| 165| 199|

  2. #2
    JustCallMeAl
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    To me, a good set of colors is the one the user selects as his/her colors. In other words, I don't mess with the colors. Why try to compete with the user?

  3. #3
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    I'm trying to WORK WITH the user. The user selects a base colour, and I helpfully (hopefully) supply a set of colours that will provide good contrast.

    Sheeesh! At least I give the user a chance to choose colours, more than most apps do. (g!)

  4. #4
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    Chris,

    The best advice I ever read on this (don't remember where...) was to hew as closely as possible to the Windows defaults - anything else is going to confuse rather than help the user.

    The userform itself should be as 'functionally transparent' as possible.

    That said, I have played around with the defaults just a little (to what I thought was pleasing effect) - but I try to be really conservative about it - never want to risk annoying the user (they're probably already annoyed enough!<g>)

    Gary

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    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    The biggest problem with colors is that they don't look the same on every machine. I've seen colors that were soft pastels on one machine become screaming primaries on another.

    For that reason, I stick with plain gray Windows-type forms with an occassional touch of color that doesn't sock the user in the eye. The advice referred to was probably from a book called "About Face", which was written for something like Windows 3.0, but is virtually the bible of Windows GUI design.
    Charlotte

  6. #6
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    Agreed.


    But what if a client ASKED you to set up alternate colour schemes? Wouldn't you want to select combinations that generally gave good contrast?

    A simple black-and-white is visible *and* prints well on my (t)rusty old HP LJ4L printer.


    I still wonder whether there's an algorithm (doesn't have to be program code) that suggests good combinations.

  7. #7
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    Hi Chris,

    At risk of beating a dead horse, my take is that this is not something you need an algorithm to do, it's something you need a designer (someone with good design sense and some GUI design knowhow) to do (or at least to lift some design ideas from <g>).

    Let's leave a few things in life for we humans to do!

    Gary

  8. #8
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    It's FLOGGING, not beating. You beat a dog; you flog a horse. Werll, I hope you doesn't (grin!)



    >There must be an arts student out there somewhere

    This was part of my original enquiry.

    I agree that programmers if left to themselves pick lousy colours. You can count on the hands of 6 billion people the number of web pages with dark-red lettering on dark-blue background. Or numbers that can't be read.


    If you're thinking of beating ANYTHING <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.systematix-inc.com/>this</A> is hard to beat. Quick, now, what's their telephone number? You'll have to be quick, because they told me today that they are thinking of changing their web page (!)


    Bearing in mind the lousy jobs done by many a web-designer before me, I was wondering if anyone here had a lead on a HUMAN approach to colour combinations.

    There's no doubt in my mind that the standard Windows scheme works well; Uncle Bill must've got advice from someone.



    Anyway, thanks for your response(s). It seems that noone knows of any artistic humans out there.

    Too bad.

  9. #9
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    Re: good set of colours for a GUI form

    (Kind of a weak reply, but...) No one here appears to have any leads, but you just know there have to be books, websites, and online forums where GUI design is obsessively discussed - the challenge is just to find 'em.

    My unschooled take on bad GUI design is like that of the Supreme Court justice, when asked how he defined pornography: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

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