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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) February 3, 2000


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New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Communicate with Color 3. NET NEWS: * VA Linux Snatches Andover.Net * AOL Sued Over Networking Bugs in AOL 5.0 * House Passes Digital Signature Bill * Standards Body OKs Disabled Accessibility Guidelines * Web Standards Group Endorses XHTML


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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ >WebReference Open Publishing

Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas - Your words could be here, being read by thousands of other subscribers!

This week, writer Maura Yost points out that effective use of color is one of the most direct ways to communicate on your pages - and not nearly as straightforward as you may have thought.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win!

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Communicate with Color

First impressions are lasting impressions, and Web designers have only a fleeting moment to engage a visitor. According to the Institute for Color Research, "all human beings make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or item within 90 seconds of initial viewing, and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone." [http://www.ccicolor.com/research.html]

The importance of color selection and coordination as it applies to Web design is often overlooked. "Your colors are part of your message. And depending on which message you wish to convey, the colors you choose can either support, emphasize, or contradict your message" emphasized Michael Fortin, Ph.D. [http://www.costlessweb.com/specol3.htm] Being knowledgeable about some basic color considerations in the planning stages expedites site design, engages the Web audience, and minimizes costly mistakes. Using your knowledge of color considerations promotes better relations with clients, too.

So what's involved in effectively using color in Website design? Factors include the influence of individual color perception, color mix, gender preferences, emotional responses to color and how culture can affect those responses. Colors convey specific meanings, but the precise interpretation is influenced by the viewer's perception and identity. There are innate perceptional differences among us. Ask a group of people to think of blue, and each will imagine a different shade and hue. Knowing that individual color perceptions exist and compensating for them speeds client site approval and overall satisfaction.

Understanding some principles of color theory simplifies design decisions. The primary colors (those that can't be produced by mixing) are red, yellow and blue. The secondary colors (a mix of the primaries) are orange, green and purple. Tertiary colors, a mix of primary and secondary colors, are yellow-orange, red-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple. Complimentary colors lie opposite on the color wheel; colors clash when hues vary. The impact of a particular color varies based the colors adjoining it. Overlooking this color principle can mean unexpected, unattractive or illegible site results. See how three adjoining colors can be perceived as four at Color Matters. [http://www.colormatters.com/colortheory.html]

There are numerous tools available to help time-strapped Web designers quickly make sound color coordination decisions. Those with a well-developed sense of color coordination will appreciate the instant gratification of Color Serve Java by Brian Hall. [http://www-students.biola.edu/~brian/csapplet.html] Use this color wheel to pick colors for backgrounds, text, links, vlinks, and alinks. Have the general colors in mind, but want to view some options? Check out Lynda Weinman's charts, carefully organized by color (hue) or value (organized by light, middle and dark values). [http://www.lynda.com/hex.html]

Even designers who are not naturally adept at color coordination can produce pleasing and effective color schemes using the Webmaster's Color Planning Laboratory at Visibone. [http://www.visibone.com/colorlab/] This interactive graphic (available as a tastefully done poster) displays the 216 colors universally supported by Web browsers, arranged symmetrically by hues: red, orange, yellow, spring, green, teal, cyan, azure, blue, violet, magenta, and pink.

Each color chip is embossed with the hexadecimal code used in HTML and the decimal color code used in many graphics tools. "Clashing colors are of very similar but not quite identical hue. On the poster, only color chips with the exact same hue are touching. Colors like that do not clash. There are 61 groups of them. So if you're trying to use shades of the same hue together, you may want to make sure they're in the same group," suggests Visibone's Bob Stein.


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For the broad generalizations about color to be useful, they must be considered in the context of a site's message and its target market demographics. Imagine a toy site done in deep, dark colors definitely not the right approach. Each gender's color preferences and perceptions vary, adding to the mix of color considerations. Men prefer color with stronger hue and saturation (bright colors); women tend to prefer tints to shades (soft colors). Women have a clear preference for cool colors, Natalia Khouw noted. [http://www.colormatters.com/khouw.html] Men are generally more tolerant of black, white and gray than women. One in ten men is color blind, but less than 1% of women are. You can test how color-blind visitors will view your color scheme by converting it to grayscale or black and white. For the color-blind, What Color is a tool for identifying RGB value as well as the color name. [http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA011243/wcolor_e.htm]

Applying color principles fosters desired audience response. Warm colors tend to "move toward you" while cool colors tend to "move away from you." So a designer can use warm colors for emphasis and cool colors to minimize emphasis. Brighter colors attract our eyes first, and if overused, can cause visual confusion. Overusing a bright color as an accent reduces its effectiveness.

Emotional responses influence color considerations, and differences in color value and intensity can evoke very different emotional reactions. Light red is associated with cheerfulness, but bright or dark red can induce irritability. Light yellow-green is associated with freshness and youth, but the darker shade olive is associated with drabness and decay. Light sky blue is associated with tranquility, but the deeper value indigo is associated with depression.

Basically, in North American mainstream culture, the following meanings are signaled by color:

* Red: urgency, passion, heat, love, blood, excitement, strength, sex, passion, speed, danger * Yellow: warmth, sunshine, cheer, happiness, cowardice, brightness * Blue: truth, dignity, power, coolness, melancholy, heaviness, trust, reliability, belonging, coolness * Orange: playfulness, warmth, vibrant * Green: nature, health, cheerfulness, environment, money, vegetation, nature, fresh, cool, growth, abundance * Purple: wealth, royalty, sophistication, intelligence, royal, spirituality, dignity * Pink: soft, sweet, nurture, security * Black: sophistication, elegant, seductive, mystery, death, rebellion, strength, evil * White: purity, cleanliness, lightness, emptiness, pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild * Gold: prestige, expensive * Silver: prestige, cold, scientific

[List above compiled from http://www.ergogero.com/FAQ/Part5/2Meaning.html and http://www.keysteps.com/Tips&Articles/feature3.htm]

Notice how a particular color may have both a positive and negative connotation? This emphasizes the importance of careful color selection and coordination.

Different cultures interpret colors differently, and a savvy Web designer can avoid disappointing results and costly re-works by some upfront cultural research. "White is the color of death in Chinese culture, but purple represents death in Brazil. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but signified sadness in Greece and jealousy in France. In North America, green is typically associated with jealousy. People from tropical countries respond most favorably to warm colors, people from northern climate prefer the cooler colors" according to Keysteps. [http://www.keysteps.com/Tips&Articles/feature3.htm]

Imagine the negative first impressions made by selecting a culturally offensive site color scheme. That's only one example of why it's time well-spent considering how color choices support a site's message, its target audience preferences and demographics.


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About the Author:

Maura "Chip" Yost's interest in computers began when she received a Commodore 64 for Christmas, which at the time she considered the electronic equivalent of a lump of coal. She worked for over 11 years as an employment specialist and workshop presenter, and holds an advanced degree in training.

You can reach Maura at: john@dataplusnet.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: VA Linux Snatches Andover.Net, AOL Sued Over Networking Bugs in AOL 5.0, House Passes Digital Signature Bill, Standards Body OKs Disabled Accessibility Guidelines, Web Standards Group Endorses XHTML

>VA Linux Snatches Andover.Net

Open source solutions giant VA Linux Systems Thursday snagged Linux community site Andover.Net for about $813 million in stock and cash. Goals for the merger including consolidating the Linux-oriented Websites of both networks to create a leading destination for open source developers, with nearly two-thirds of the total traffic of major open source sites. The consolidation will put the combined network into the top 100 Web destinations worldwide. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,1087,3_298871,00.html InternetNews.com, 000203

>AOL Sued Over Networking Bugs in AOL 5.0

America Online Inc. has been hit with a massive class-action lawsuit on behalf of subscribers who installed AOL version 5.0 and subsequently lost their ability to connect to other Internet service providers. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia, alleges that AOL (AOL) "fraudulently concealed" the fact that the latest version of its software could interfere with the operation of other software and Internet access settings. http://www.internetnews.com/isp-news/article/0,1087,8_298491,00.html InternetNews.cim, 000203

>House Passes Digital Signature Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that would allow U.S. consumers to electronically sign their name over the Internet. Business lobbyists say that the bill will be a boon to large purchases (such as a car, boat or mortgage), but consumer advocates say that a lack of sufficient verification and protection processes will hurt the public. http://cnn.com/2000/TECH/computing/01/31/esignatures/index.html CNN.com, 000131

>Standards Body OKs Disabled Accessibility Guidelines

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) put its final stamp of approval on the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (ATAG), proposed in November. The W3C's guidelines come as the consortium and the Web at large struggle with the issue of how to provide Web content that people with various visual and aural disabilities can access. For this purpose, the W3C maintains a separate division called the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1541412.html CNet.com, 000203

>Web Standards Group Endorses XHTML

In further standards news, the Web Standards Project (WaSP) Tuesday endorsed the W3C's Recommendation for XHTML, sending a message to browser makers that standards should remain a priority. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,1087,10_297951,00.html InternetNews.com, 000201

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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