30 January 2013

Caution: Color, culture and convention

As designers of learning experiences, we know that color can have a powerful impact on learning. It can improve recall, understanding and appeal when used well. But it's easy to forget how culturally embedded color meanings are.  Americans, for example, can forget green is only the color of money in the US. While red indicates debt and downturns in the financial world, it's prosperity in China. And just as white is for weddings in some countries, its reserved for funerals in others.

Even within one region, different interest groups or industries may have different associations for color.  So, to avoid color faux pas, know your audience. Then check out a color symbolism list or book, or enjoy David McCandless’ cultural color wheel for an elegant visualization of the meaning behind colours in various cultures.