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A client needs a piece of software where he can see what price he should be using for his products. Ideally you would say that an expensive price should be red. It is, after all, a negative experience. But the big price would be a positive sign for our customer. As it would indicate that he makes more money...

I'm looking for the best way to show this:

mockup

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All the possibilities I can come up with have multiple meanings to them and could easily be misunderstood. Arrows pointing up could show a positive increase and dito negative increase. Green color could show positive progression, but how is positive interpretated?

  • Had not yet seen that website. Have seen some others though. At pricerunner they don't seem to differentiate color or icon wise, only position wise. Which is an interesting point of view... – Matthijs Mali Sep 12 '12 at 12:40
  • Somebody commented here and I commented back. That person seems to have removed theirs... It stated wether I had visited price comparison websites for ... comparison :) – Matthijs Mali Sep 12 '12 at 13:00
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    You simply shouldn't use colors to compare values. Colors are dead, flat and equal-valued (or "nominal" or "categorical" if you'd like to use some proper term). Therefor colors don't relate to comparable values in any way. Neither ordinal or interval types of values. You should take a look at Stephen Few's book on dashboard design to get some inspiration: amazon.com/Information-Dashboard-Design-Effective-Communication/… – Jørn E. Angeltveit Sep 12 '12 at 13:40
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How about using Bold Black for your best price, and gradiate down from there, so regular face grey color for competitors and your last year price is red, and probably keep it beside your new price. That way you differentiate yourself, and keep the focus on your great prices?

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If the client requested this comparison in the first place, I would ask them what their interpretation of the data would be. That would dictate which colours, if any, should be used to aid that interpretation. As you say, whether or not the numbers are 'good' or 'bad' depends on the user's point of view. I'm not convinced colour is very useful here though.

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