Recently there was a request about changing the color of inbox unread inbox indicator to green, so it make me think:

What would be the best color or for indicator of unread inbox messages (irrelative to Stack Exchange), if I implement an interface with inbox dropdown like SE dropdown? Is red really angry color?

1 Answer 1


More than focussing on color,you should focus on making it distinctive enough through contrast. Using color alone as an indicator would make it inaccessible for people with color blindness. To quote the W3 guidelines

If color alone is used to convey information, people who cannot differentiate between certain colors and users with devices that have non-color or non-visual displays will not receive the information. When foreground and background colors are too close to the same hue, they may not provide sufficient contrast when viewed using monochrome displays or by people with different types of color deficits.

You could use red or green as long as the contrast is strong enough for people to read it and make it out without relying on color.

For example, taking facebook as an example

What a person without color blindness sees

enter image description here

Here is what a person with Monochromatic vision sees

enter image description here

Taking twitter Notifications as an example

Here is what a person without colorblindness sees

enter image description here

Here is what a person with monochromatic vision sees

enter image description here

So you could potentially use any color as long as it stands out and the contrast is good. Here are some examples

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • +1 For framing this as an issue about color contrast and not about color hue. Nicael, if you are working with Adobe software they have an option under the view settings to test for protanopia and deuteranopia color blindness (dichomacy color vision is a more common than monochromatic vision).
    – coffeecola
    Oct 17, 2014 at 21:45

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