How to represent a data that is good/acceptable, and data that is not acceptable? Currently I am using green for good data and red for bad data with bold font. Please suggest.

Let me tell you the requirement briefly. Let's say in a website we have two fields- Field A and B. Field A is non editable but it's value will dynamically change as per the value entered in field B. Field A is basically a guideline filed and indicates the user whether the value entered in field B is permissible or not. In other words, if the value of field A is greater than 10 (let's say) then it is a bad value and user should get this message. Now my question is what is the best way to represent the field A. Currently I have thought of Putting Bold and color(Red) font to represent this.

  • My users definitively chose yellow (vs red and shades of it) with a short, informative "hover tip" when faced with the same situation. I have no scientific data for this, so I'm leaving it as a comment! – Nic Jul 25 '11 at 18:58
  • What's the scenario that means you need to colorize 'good' data at all. – Roger Attrill Jul 25 '11 at 19:11
  • @Roger Attrill I should also mention that we didn't colorize 'good' data (no need, really) – Nic Jul 25 '11 at 19:17
  • @Prasun we have absolutely no context for your 'data' - are you talking about web forms? – Roger Attrill Jul 25 '11 at 19:37

If you are talking about web forms, use red by all means, but not a saturated red (something like E03030 is nice) and do in-line validation after field entry. Then you can mark valid fields using a green symbol but not a saturated green (30B030 is nice), but definitely no need to mark the good data itself!

Luke Wroblewski wrote an article called Inline Validation in Web Forms for the A List Apart website which is very useful in this respect. It describes the testing they undertook and the results found.

  • I wish every site I ever visited followed those guidelines. – Nic Jul 25 '11 at 20:52

I can only supplement the good answers above with a few additional thoughts.

Using color alone as an indicator is problematic since a large percentage of the general population experiences some form of color blindness, with difficulties differentiating between green and red being one of the most common. Also keep in mind that color "values" are extremely cultural with the most dramatic example being red means danger to Westerners but symbolizes good luck in Chinese cultures. Of course this does not matter if you are only designing for an American and/or European audience.

Another general piece of guidance: when users enter unacceptable data into a field, it is always a good idea to provide hint or help text suggesting how they may correct their entry. Telling a user they have made a mistake without helping them correct it can be a frustrating experience.

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