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I'm working on a dashboard and have to make a design decision.

Is that okay to use different bar chart colors for a different type of information on the same dashboard or I should use the same color always?

I got feedback that one tone color looks boring, but my concern that colorful bar charts may confuse users.

Please see attached mocks: Bar charts in multiple colors

Bar charts in the same color

p.s Actual data is very different, just used some abstract names for example purpose

2 Answers 2

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The use of color in data can be a conflicting element. If an operation has to be explained to a child for the first time, which of the following two situations will help better understanding:

enter image description here

Unless it's necessary to establish a clear difference between the data set to be displayed:

enter image description here

If this is not necessary, the use of color interferes negatively, it's just decorative noise.

Perhaps I would use another statement to refine your question:

How to differentiate different groups of diagrams using color?

The obvious answer is that the color does not have to be on the content of the diagram, there are other composition elements such as the title, the container frame, the background...

enter image description here

This allows to establish a clear difference in the different groups by the use of color and maintaining a clear perception of the content.

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There are a lot of well established guidelines when it comes to the use of colours in charts and graphics.

The starting point is to examine the existing colour palette/scheme and see if they are on brand, so that you are optimizing the use of the brand guidelines.

Secondly, you need to look at the rest of the charts and graphics and see if current colours are applied consistently, and what the impact of any changes will be to the rest of the charts and graphics.

Now you can start to work out the nature of the data you are trying to represent, and whether additional colours provide more meaning or if it will just become distracting for the user. Keep in mind that it might be nice to see lots of colours the first time, but if you are looking at them constantly then it will most often not help with the analysis and interpretation of the data presented.

Finally, any changes made and the rationale for the decisions should be documented and updated so that your brand and design guidelines are consistent. This will make it easy for designers and developers to apply them in the future.

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