7.10. Using Colors in Data Visualization
Using Colors Purposefully
Colors play a significant role in data visualization, so it's essential to use them purposefully.
While it might be tempting to use a client's branding colors throughout a report, consider the meaning behind each color to ensure effective communication.
Colors have specific connotations that can impact how your audience interprets the data:
- Red: Indicates critical situations, bad performance, or danger. Use red sparingly and only to emphasize crucial points or areas of concern.
- Orange: Acts as a warning or cautionary signal. It's less severe than red but still indicates a need for attention.
- Green: Represents good performance or being on target. Use green to highlight positive results or safe zones.
- Blue: Conveys a neutral, "just fine" message. It's neither good nor bad, making it an ideal color for elements that don't require emphasis.
- Gray: Suggests insignificance or secondary information. Use gray for benchmarks or reference points that provide context but aren't the main focus.
- Black: Signifies importance or emphasis, especially when used in monochrome visualizations. Use black to draw attention to a particular element.
When creating visualizations, be mindful of the meanings behind the colors you choose.
Using colors with intention will result in more effective communication and a better experience for your audience. Remember, your primary goal is to provide valuable insights, not just to adhere to a client's branding colors.
Using Colors Consistently
Along with using colors purposefully, it's essential to maintain consistency in your visualizations. Consistent color use helps avoid confusion and makes it easier for your audience to understand the information being presented.
One issue that can arise in visualizations is the inconsistent use of color sets for different values. For example, using different shades of blue for the same category can create confusion for the viewer. To avoid this, assign a specific color to represent a particular category consistently throughout your report.
In Looker Studio, you can utilize the "Dimension Value Colors" feature, which allows you to assign a specific color to each category. This way, the tool will automatically apply the assigned color whenever that category appears in your visualizations, ensuring consistency and saving time.
In summary, maintaining color consistency is crucial for effective data visualization.
By assigning a specific color to each category and using it consistently throughout your report, you can create a more coherent and easy-to-understand visual representation of your data.