We have a site that is brandable (colours) for each client. There is an area of the site that has donut charts that represent the following four items:

  • Success

We thought of taking the client's primary brand color and using that as the successes and then having the other items the same color but lightened (15/20%)

This does not seem to work well due to the lack of control for the colors (errors as a green color?)

Is there an industry standard approach for these represented as colors? Maybe the traffic light system (Red = errors, Amber = warnings, Green = success)

And if so, what would be a good color for the fourth item (exclusions)?

Has anyone else had to represent this type of data through colors and how did it work?

1 Answer 1


Meaning of colors is constrainted by cultural values. There are various links

and the well known chart of David McCandless Colors in Culture

So knowing your users, you could localize the colors, BUT regarding the internet cultural constraints coloring for status seems to be:

  • Red - error
  • Yellow - warning
  • Green - ok

Subcategories for each of these status would be e.g. a lighter palette for each level

  • 1
    Note that such colour-by-culture charts should always be taken with a grain of salt. Not every meaning is taken seriously, and even less so exclusive. In many situations, choosing a colour that contrasts with other colours already in use is much more important than choosing a colour for its traditional cultural meaning. Commented May 19, 2017 at 11:21

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