User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm working as a front-end developer. I used to work on JavaScript technologies. But when it comes to UX and about choosing colors and stuff which I'm not able to understand well due to color blindness.

I wanted to create good UI designs with great UX. How can I do this? Is this possible for me?

P.S. Are there any UX Designers with color-blindness?

share|improve this question
5  
Even if you couldn't create the color palettes for the design, which I'm sure you could depending on the type of color blindness, there are still many other aspects in UI and UX development you could work on! – DasBeasto Mar 23 at 12:40
101  
A decent part of UI/UX is making sure interfaces work well for people just like yourself. I would think that would be a valuable addition to a team. – Doyle Lewis Mar 23 at 12:54
50  
Work for a company that requires 508 compliance. Your colorblindness will be an asset. – jpmc26 Mar 23 at 23:42
10  
@jpmc26: OP didn't say they are American. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 24 at 3:27
7  
I used to work on a scrum team with a developer who was totally blind. He was an amazing asset. He wasn't the only front end developer on the team, but his contribution was very important. Without him we didn't do accessibility very well. In short - use your colour blindness as a strength. If you become an expert in accessible websites then you have a great skill that is both rare and in demand. – Qwerky Mar 24 at 14:31

13 Answers 13

up vote 96 down vote accepted

There is no problem to work as a UX/UI designer, as choosing color is just a minor part of the usability process. There are lots of other activities that the UX-er should do, like usability testing, checking analytics, conducting A/B tests, writing reports.

Choosing color is more like visual designers work. People often are confused between the two professions. Visual designers create logos, website designs and color schemes and rarely test which one works better. On the other hand UX specialists are creating desings based on user research and "best practices". Generally, UX designers make much more informed choices on an interface compared to Visual designers.

If you have passion for making an interface easy to use for unexperienced users give this profession a go. Not to mention that is well paid and the demand for UX designers is increasing.

share|improve this answer
18  
I like this answer, but it's at least partially inaccurate. Visual designers creating logos and color schemes often do so based on research. In fact, there are companies that literally do nothing but research logo and website designs and the impact that those designs have on marketing and user interaction. Color schemes go hand-in-hand with that. – Jesse Williams Mar 24 at 14:07
2  
Yes, you are right but thats a minority case. These companies are an exception. – Kristiyan Lukanov Mar 24 at 14:17
9  
I have to agree with Jesse on this, great answer +1 except for the part about visual designers not based on research. Sure they can just freehand what they think looks nice or they can study the market/end user and see what emotions/thoughts it envokes. What do you think graphic design professors teach to their students "just do whatever you thinks pretty"? No, they're taught color theory, drawing attention using contrast, etc. which is all found through research. – DasBeasto Mar 24 at 16:11
1  
is colour theory, drawing attention using contrast, etc.... found out through research though? It seems to me that those are established rules. They're not just going out and blindly making pretty pictures, they are basing what they are doing on knowledge (much of which comes from research that somebody has done) but they're not usually actually going out there and doing user research – the other one Mar 29 at 9:48
1  
The quality of the sentiment and message here is reduced I think by trying to draw an "us vs them." It likely feels supportive, but none of these jobs are really so cleanly defined to allows us to compare them like that. Designers and artists both may be incredibly mathematical or structured in their approach. Cutting the "designers just guess" bit would be a good move, IMO. – Matt Apr 1 at 13:05

I've been doing front-end work for a decade, and I have deuteranopia or deuteranomaly (red-green color blindness). It has never been a problem.

I largely rely on color codes and location/proximity on color picker UIs to identify colors.

When doing a design from scratch, I will often look at pre-existing palettes for inspiration. I will also use an eyedropper tool on the organization's logo for further inspiration. If the organization has a style guide that includes specific organizational colors, then that's even better.

If I am handed a pre-existing design, I can re-use the existing colors. If I need to add new colors, I can go by the color codes and experience based on working with various palettes to determine what works well.

One benefit of being color blind is that when choosing colors to represent data, I automatically pick colors that are easy to comprehend for color blind and color sighted users alike! For instance, the particular shades of red and green I would pick for a stop/go status indicator would be more perceptible to other color blind users. Or, the colors I choose for a graph or map would be easy to correlate with the key.

share|improve this answer
8  
+1 for making accessible software for the colourblind. – deworde Mar 24 at 12:32
3  
Jeff, would you be so nice to tell me a good color for red and green (false/okay) indicators? – FrankL Mar 25 at 7:34
1  
Jeff hit on one of the things I thought about when considering this question. A color blind designer, while taking cues from existing or provided colors, is more likely to make a more accessible site because those of us with "normal" color vision wouldn't notice how similar two colors might be in some circumstances. – TecBrat Mar 28 at 19:50
    
FrankL - You could ask an entirely new question on that, since so many factors are involved. There are several types of colorblindness. Deuteranomaly (confusing red vs green) is the most common. And then those with deuteranomaly have varying degrees of severity. There's really no right answer to the red/green indicator question, especially if the visitor has deuteranopia (total red/green blindness). – Jeff Mar 29 at 14:43
1  
The best approach is to ensure that there are other indicators that do not rely on color (e.g., "Pass" vs "Fail" text overlaid on the red and green). This automatically makes it accessible for those with total blindness, too. It helps me when the lightness and saturation numbers differ greatly between the two (e.g., light green and dark red), and when the colored area is as large as possible (e.g., apply colors to background, not text). For me, #00ff00 and #990000 work together well. That's an ugly neon green, but #00cc00 would work with that red too. But that's just for my colorblindness. – Jeff Mar 29 at 14:46

Limitations are limiting

Everyone here is very nice, but they're dodging one important point:

Being a color-blind UXD will limit your ability to be an all-in-one product designer.

Everyone has their limits. Unlike you, I do not have a solid engineering background. I work closely with a software architect throughout the discovery phase of a product or feature and with the engineers throughout development. This compensates for my limitations, ensuring I understand our technical constraints and opportunities.

Color-blindness will not hinder you in areas like info architecture, application flow, and user journeys. But you should work with someone else when it comes time for the polished side of the product.

Like any of us, you just have to find a role that allows you to make the most impactful contribution with the skills you have.

In response to the disgruntled commenters ...

There are tools to validate various accessibility issues; there's no need to employ an "expert" for every possible pitfall. I use an application to check designs against all forms of color-blindness. I can use that tool because I do not have any form of color-blindness myself which would corrupt my view of other forms. I also know several color-blind people that can provide feedback.

Be judicious with the idea that you can test design.
You can comply with known accessibility requirements.
You can check against notable heuristic principals.
But there is also an intangible, unquantifiable aspect to product design.

Ask Google about the transition from "scientific" design to the process that resulted in Material. They didn't get design when they treated it like a thing to be tested down to the finest detail. Now they've beaten Apple at their own game.

share|improve this answer
8  
If I worked at a company that let me make all the decisions without passing them past anyone before going live then I don't think that's the best sort of company to work for. A good UXer will run their design decisions through testing (QA and usability) before going live. Any colour issues should be detected long before they become a problem. It shouldn't be an issue to the end product. – JonW Mar 23 at 17:29
3  
@JonW So the executives, QA, engineering, etc should be the experts on final product design? I hope to never work in such a place. My point is, he should work in an environment where there are other roles to handle final product design concerns like color. Then he can focus on higher-level concerns.. – plainclothes Mar 23 at 17:33
3  
This is reasonable. In a nutshell, you can still be an excellent UX designer, but there are certain jobs you will be less qualified for (the all-in-one guy, for example). I think it's unrealistic not to admit this (I also have a color deficiency). – Richard Rast Mar 23 at 19:17
7  
@JonW there are an AWFUL lot of companies out there that don't have a separate QA team, AND an engieering team, AND a production team... while some job requirements are pretty ridiculous when it comes to expecting expertise in many different areas, there are just a lot of small companies out there. – Rick Henderson Mar 23 at 20:25
6  
@deworde UX designers who do not have color blindness are still capable of ensuring that the colors chosen do not pose accessibility issues. A UX designer with color blindness will have an easier time noticing issues for their particular type of blindness, but they will also be unable to do as well matching some colors that don't pose an accessibility issue, but which may add aesthetic appeal. It's a very minor point, but, imo, still valid. And "they don't have to worry about accessibility issues"? No. They'll just have an easier time spotting one specific subset. – Beofett Mar 24 at 17:14

Color blindness may hinder your ability to produce some visual designs and maybe some parts of a 'pretty' UI, as color goes a long way to aesthetic appeal, BUT, as a UX designer I would go so far as to say that you can use color blindness to your advantage.

Around 8% of men and .5% of women are color blind, and as a UX designer, it is our job to make sure that we do not rely solely on color as a visual cue or indicator. Move into the UX professional world and ensure that decisions like this (based solely on color) aren't being made, and lean on your own experiences to come up with better solutions that don't rely on color only.

Many of us can only use research and foresight to gauge the effectiveness of some of the color cues that we provide and you have first hand experience on what does and doesn't work.

I once met a blind guy who was one of the most informed UX/Accessibility professionals I'd ever spoken to. So in answer to your question, 'Yes'! You most certainly can become a UI/UX professional.

share|improve this answer
    
This answer seems to be assuming that there's exactly one variant of color blindness. There are even on the coarest level three different variants of colorblindness, so while the OP certainly would have an easier time with one and only one form, it wouldn't help for the others. There are better ways to handle such accessibility issues (it's after all just a question of contrast between colors, tools can check for that) – Voo Mar 28 at 17:36
    
@Voo, very true, but it doesn't change the fact that someone who is color blind can still become a UI/UX professional. I'd like to think that this answer works at varying levels for any kind of color blindness. – Brett East Mar 28 at 17:45
    
Oh as long as someone else takes care of the colors - which is a pretty easy arrangement in larger teams - I don't see any reason why not. I just wanted to make it clear that there are different color blindness so that you'd still need tools to check for all the other variants, so it's not that big an advantage imo. In the end this shouldn't be a big deal in the hiring process assuming a larger team. – Voo Mar 28 at 17:52

I worked with a front-end developer with color blindness in the past. It never was a problem.

You may have to check if the used colors are good for the larger group of users, but every UI/UX professional should check how a design looks and works for all kinds of users. No difference in my opinion.

share|improve this answer
    
Why does a front end engineer care about color? It should all be spec'd by that point. – plainclothes Mar 25 at 5:04
2  
@plainclothes: Because a front-ender works with color, should be involved in the design process and can be a designer as well, especially in smaller companies. – jazZRo Mar 25 at 13:11
1  
Interesting perspective. In my experience, front-end devs who dabble in product design are about as useful as product designers who dabble in dev ;-) – plainclothes Mar 25 at 18:15

You will be the most precious designer in your company!

In my software project, I always struggle to find solid advice about color choices. There are many guidelines and tools to measure how accessible a certain palette is, but applying them is so tedious and explaining the results so difficult. Typically, what works well is to find a color-blind user and make them report the problems they find.

Your physical situation gives you the gift of automatically fixing a wealth of accessibility issues in your products without even thinking. Make sure to put this at profit.

share|improve this answer
1  
Of course, there are different kinds of color-blindess and what works for one (kind of) color-blind person may not work for another. However, the worst accessibility issues are find by any of them. – Nemo Mar 23 at 21:23
2  
To check color-blindness issues, it's better to run your product through a simulator where you can check all anomaly / deficiency conditions. – plainclothes Mar 23 at 22:21

I worked with a UX designer with serious color blindness. We would decide the color palette together, then wireframe the product in grayscale.

Then using color palette with lighter/darker colors from the palette works pretty harmonious.

share|improve this answer

I'm mildly red/green colorblind. As you're probably aware, about 9% of males have some degree of deuteranomaly. If that's your flavor of color blindness, you are absolutely an asset.

Your first task is to become the local expert on accessibility, because that's part of UX design. Google 'WCAG 2.0'.

https://www.google.com/search?q=wcag+2.0

Within that search, the following titles have been particularly useful for me:

https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/

http://webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist

You'll also want to bookmark this tool. It can give you detailed WCAG reports on text/background contrast

http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/

Last Fall we inherited a very stylish website with 10pt light green hairline text on medium blue. Horrendous readability for anyone over 40, let alone the target audience, well-heeled older tourists.

It took me 2 weeks to tweak the contrast and general readability, but the immediate wins came from Contrast Checker.

Because visual designers usually are quite territorial about their inaccessible designs, I recommend that you try to find more contrasty colors for text/background, using the original color as the base.

I find http://www.colorhexa.com's 'shades and tints' feature invaluable to find darker/lighter shades of colors, for example http://www.colorhexa.com/66aa33.

Switching between ColorHexa and Contrast Checker will help you keep the text color scheme WCAG2-compliant without too many artistic arguments.

share|improve this answer
    
I just noticed that ColorHexa.com has added simulators for the major color-anomalous visions. WOOT! • This means all the lucky people who don't have color-blindness can just goddam do a good color scheme on their own -- with you as the local test subject. – Macartisan Mar 23 at 21:21

I have been color deficient (trouble seeing shades within colors) and worked extensively in both newspaper production (working with million dollar ad spreads that had to print EXACTLY per our 4-color specs) as well as a web design/UX professional for over 25 years and this has NEVER limited me.

Let's split UI and UX into separate answers:

UI: As far as being a Picasso with colors, you might not be best suited for that, but if you have a solid understanding of color theory, and can see the basic color groups, you can be successful in making decisions that will compliment or enhance an established brand.

UX: Your color blindness will have ZERO impact. Your ability to design simple, effective flows is more about critical thinking and designing simplicity than it is being able to see colors.

I've used my color deficiency to a huge advantage numerous times in my career, because I know I can always solve the UX challenge, keeping (and often saving up for) the hand-off to my visual design colleagues and teams.

An argument I've often used is to keep UX black and white, that way it stops conversations about what specific color something should be.

Keep the focus on killer experience design, and defer to a great creative and you will have an amazing career!

share|improve this answer

I think it's extremely important to note that this should give you an advantage over most for accessibility and usability.

Product Designers that take more care in understanding how certain physical limitations change the way your product looks.

Color isn't just about picking 'pretty colors' that make things 'pop.' It is as much an art as it is a science. Good color palettes are typically understandable to color blind people.

Invest the time into learning the math behind color; leverage it when you need to work with color and make sure to get feedback from peers who aren't color blind and you and your colleagues will not look at this as a hinderance but a beneficial perspective.

I'd also like to re-iterate what's been mentioned above, great UX design does not require a mastery of visual design, but you won't go far without working with others who focus on visual design.

Some quick links on it: https://vis4.net/blog/posts/mastering-multi-hued-color-scales/

http://colorbrewer2.org/

share|improve this answer

It depends on how well you can adapt and how many people are willing to support you. From a "color-seeing perspective", the colors that we see can be described as "arbitrary" and "following patterns". Arbitrary in the sense that people have come to prefer certain color over others - in the case of text, our "advisors" are always insisting on gray text color. If it is dark black, they get annoyed. (As a programmer, you could consider me color-blind in the sense that I don't really care a whole lot, I just change the color when it is asked for). "Following a pattern" in the sense that they are choosing gray in order to prevent the text from appearing too prominent in the page.

So as a programmer, I just change the color and to me it is arbitrary. If I wanted to improve UX, I would follow the above rule with graduations. That is a colorblind example, but colors are the same. They follow certain rules, certain colors go with certain colors and not with certain colors, and people like certain colors and not certain colors. There are 255^3 colors that are possible on the web, but I would speculate that most of the colors used are in a very small range. Which means that there are a number of "acceptable" blues, "acceptable" yellows and "acceptable" reds which you can learn and which may even be specified for you. You could learn maybe 3 of each and learn rules of color from others, either online or by your own research. Do you know that "red" is a very "dangerous" color and has no place except for alerts, warning, negativity, etc.

That is a complex science, but you might be surprised to think that color see-ing is predictable. If you are good enough at UX, then you will just have someone else around you who fixes the colors, and some companies will support you in this. But ideally, you can just learn when to use dark blue, when to use light blue, the different shades of blue, etc and the colors that nobody wants to see like turquoise, etc. I'm not going to write that for you, but with difficulty, you could find that and begin producing designs, pretending like you know the colors. Take a look at this page? How many colors? I count: 2 yellows (answer box and tooltip), 2 blues, 1 blue so dark it looks like black (the "X" in UX), 1 dark yellow (brownish - ask question button), 2 greens and 1 red. Difficult, yes, but not rocket science.

Additionally, the answer by "Miles McCrocklin" has a rule for you. Check it out and learn it.

share|improve this answer

What an interesting question. Most developers given the freedom, have used color cues. We have several options. We can make the color cue redundant or we can ensure that there are no more than about three hue transitions on the element (think shades of grey). In my experience, this should even be visible to most forms of color blindness. The 'Get a girlfriend' answer was good advice, too. A nice screen shot of each of the Windows Color Selector for each color and you would be g2g. You are absolutely qualified to make sure your software is ready for someone with this physical challenge. We are ALL supposed to work toward making our software accessible to many different users and their particular needs.

share|improve this answer

UX is not just about visual design, it's about the flow. You can majorly contribute to flow and experience for that matter and make use of a decent designer to help with colors and other stuff

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.