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I fairly frequently create short, google-doc surveys with 3-5 questions. Before today I always used the default template and never thought to change colors.

However, considering I also work at a concert venue running stage lighting I am very aware of how color affects mood in that context, leading me to wonder about the UX/color aspects for a survey.

Specifically I am choosing between the default themes on Google Forms.

  • What should I consider when choosing a color theme for a short survey?
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You should pick what looks nice, adheres to any particular brand requirements you're working with, and doesn't get in the way of the user's tasks. –  DA01 Aug 19 '13 at 14:45

3 Answers 3

Unless your goal is to actively influence the answers that people give on your surveys, keep everything as neutral as possible. Black, white, no fancy decorations, especially not "cute" ones etc.

The problem with "over-designing" the aesthetics of questionnaires and forms for research purposes, is that in the end, you might be left wondering: "did they like my product, or did they like my questionnaire?", especially when your questions are targeted at such subjective measurements as mood and liking (I mean, it won't influence how people fill out their age or location).

The best way to avoid this problem is if you have something (a baseline) to compare your results to, because then the aesthetic don't matter, as long as you keep it the same for everybody who fills in your forms.

As for color blindness, you could try Color Oracle. Nothing fancy, just lets you preview whatever is on your screen as if you are colorblind (Euteranopia, Protanopia, or Tritanopia).

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One factor to consider, beyond the mood factor you already mentioned, would be accessibility.

Luckily, there are tools for viewing colours as if by people with the various kinds of colour-blindness out there. As a starting point, I believe some reds, greens, and browns can be confused by some segment of the population, so using pairs of those colours to help distinguish between different elements of the survey will not help everyone.

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Have a look at: http://www.ehow.com/info_8558473_mood-swings-colors.html

Here is an extract:

Color stimulates the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, which in turn affects mood. Different colors are composed of different wavelengths of light. These varying wavelengths stimulate the pituitary gland into releasing different brain chemicals that in turn provoke a particular mood. Blue and green are calming, violet can be confidence boosting, indigo can focus the mind. Yellow and orange can boast optimism and cheerfulness. Red can also help energize a person.

Depending on how you want people to feel, you can decide. I would also expect things are never so black and white, so if you want you can try a few different color choices and see if there is a difference in response rate, kind of responses etc. It'll be good to see such data.

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