73: COLOR THEMING WITH GREEN

The Potlatch school district website is a dominant green (I sampled it). The green is the same one used in “powerful” color themes. This is very normal and good for school colors. We want others to think (perceive) “our team” as invincible.

But green as a dominant color does NOT connote powerful. Only when it is subordinate (secondary in the hierarchy). Hierarchy can be established by various design methods. I won’t go into that now. But simple coverage of pixels is a good indicator. Color real estate.

When green is dominant, we normally think “natural or environmental” theme. But this logger green is too “hard or harsh or strong” for that softer natural palette. The deep “forest green” was chosen subconsciously by a designer. But there are psychological reasons why the selection happened and those can be explained (as I am doing now). When we’re aware of these subtle things, we can “manipulate” perception even stronger for emphasis with “design”. Design is a strategic tool.

That is the case for the Potlatch website. Dark green is a good color choice –but needs others in combination and in “good-enough” hierarchy to make it a really strong theme. Good can be better.

Themes are based on our memories and the emotions tied to them. One color alone rarely is a theme. It is color combinations and their “rank” that really produce emotive excellence. “Emotive excellence” meaning “feelings”. UX is about creating feelings.

With better color combinations, we help people feel comfortable, improve credibility, and let them know they are in the right place. Color cues are also “free” (weightless) because of HTML speed. Bonus.

The immediate choice in powerful themes is dominant black and a subordinate color –like your green. But your site is not black dominant. It is green. So adjustment is needed. But that combination may be too powerful. In fact, black would have too high of contrast onscreen and might strain the eyes (guessing from experience). The black in the background marbling tile is an unconscious attempt to get more black into the theme.

I researched alternate colors that work with the green. We will experiment to see which gives the best result. I suspect it will be the dark gray and green combination.

After awhile working with theming tools, your eye can pick out stuff (autopilot). It’s like training yourself to find the sweet-spot. Testing then confirms what your instincts pick up. After becoming aware, you can reinforce the theme.