I've been tasked with preparing a set of rules for the design standard of a collection of intranet modules. Most of these applications are already in production, and new ones are expected to be added in the future as well.

I've already found plenty of resources available in guiding me towards writing a flexible, yet concrete set of rules, but there is one aspect that I cannot find specific advice on, and that is a color code.

While I recognize that a common color code in itself is a secondary consideration within the development of a design standard, it is necessary here because among the current modules of our intranet that are in production, there is too much inconsistency in choices of color usage.

Here is a relevant piece of advice I've found from a university talk on Effective Visual Communication for GUIs:

The importance of color is to communicate. Therefore color codes should respect existing cultural and professional usage... Color connotations should be used with great care.

Bottom Line

I need to create a color guideline using our brand colors, backed by some sort of authoritative and non-biased convention, but I cannot find a single "best-practice" that I can back my decision with in order to minimize office politics.

Our brand colors that we generally use outside of greyscale are the following:

#FE5815 #FFA02F #C4D600 #509E2F #005BBB #001A70 enter image description here

  • What do you mean by "Color code"? Do you mean general rules for what colors to use and how to use them? If so, this isn't really a UX question. It's a branding/graphic design question. And there is no non-biased convention. It will always be biased--typically biased towards the branding/marketing team. :) – DA01 May 25 '16 at 18:34
  • @DA01 Yes, I mean general rules for how to use our brand colors. Unfortunately for me, there are individuals or small groups of people assigned to styling for every module on our intranet, so there is no single branding/marketing team to resolve what my manager has warned me about the potential for office politics on this subject. Do you have any advice? – Patrick Roberts May 25 '16 at 18:43
  • You need a set of guidelines. Ideally, those come with the full branding package that the marketing team (or design firm or what have you) created. If that doesn't exist, then it'd be up to a designer on your team to come up with one. What's more important is that you have one more than what it actually is. If those brand colors you listed work, then go with those. Maybe add a few additional UI colors (alerts, warnings, success, etc.) and then set up some rules for when/how/where to use certain colors. – DA01 May 25 '16 at 18:45
  • @DA01 that's the issue I'm having. The rules for when/how/where to use certain colors are currently inconsistent across our intranet modules and I need a platform from which to authoritatively say, for example, "we need tables to be bordered with the color #001A70 because a case study done on convention XYZ proves this increases comprehensibility by 15%" or something like that. – Patrick Roberts May 25 '16 at 18:51
  • @DA01, there's A LOT of non-biased conventions, color theory is a quite old discipline. If you mean specific color choices, then yes, it would be biased, but as far as color theory goes, he can simply start with a color and use one of the many non-biased guidelines that exist – Devin May 25 '16 at 18:54

While this is quite subjective, there are some guidelines on color based on frameworks or design philosophies. A very common one nowadays is Material Design Colors, which basically uses a primary color, a secondary color, and an accent, mixed with shades and tints.

Similarly, Apple Color Guidelines are a must read resource since it has more theory, which in turn will help you to develop your own palette

If you want to go even further, you NEED to read Color and the UI article. There's a lot of info to digest, but it's a great article if you want to learn more in-depth about color theories

Please note that we can't give you a color palette, this is something you'll need to do by yourself, but the above resources will greatly help you.

As an additional comment, I don't think you REALLY need to attach to branding on an intranet. If anything, simply use the main color and go from there, the key is to make information visible and easy to navigate

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  • Thank you, these links are exactly what I've been looking for. I don't know how I missed the color page from material design. – Patrick Roberts May 25 '16 at 18:55
  • Good info, but note that the first two links are specific UI/Platform color guidelines. Great in lieu of nothing else, but may not actually work with the existing branding color guidelines that a person has to work with. I do agree from a pure UX perspective, an intranet doesn't need to be heavily branded...however, from a Business perspective, for better or worse, it always is. :) – DA01 May 25 '16 at 18:59
  • I just need something that will help bring all the teams to a consensus by pointing to an authoritative source like google material design. – Patrick Roberts May 25 '16 at 19:02

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