Colour commentaryVeerle Pieters at SXSW on colour and the Social Signal web redesign

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Pencil crayons in many colours

For something that has such a huge impact on our emotional response, colour often gets surprisingly short shrift in web projects. People who can argue for hours about the relative merits of "About" over "About Us" will flip a coin to choose between blue, purple or green as the colour for text links.

Maybe that's because colour, frankly, scares the daylights out of a lot of us. It's complex and mysterious; we put together a combination of colours that looks hideous, yet a designer tweaks a few values here and there and suddenly it's a thing of grace and beauty. Or we throw something together that looks great on the monitor, only to find that the printer has turned our oranges into fuschias, blues into tuquoises and smug smiles into devastated frowns.

The cure for a mystery, of course, is information... and that's what folks at SXSW got earlier this month when one of our favourite people, Veerle Pieters, served on a panel about colour in web design.

Veerle knows what she's talking about. She's the world-renowed web designer who redesigned SocialSignal.com; you can see her handiwork all around this post, from her bold rainbow reimagining of our logo to the crimson-to-orange gradient that wraps our content in warmth. (If you're reading this in an RSS reader, please drop by the site and check out what she's done - we think it's jaw-dropping.)

No wonder, then, that the example she used for her case study was this very redesign:

The very bright and wide range of colors for the logo and house-style, makes it rather challenging. It's a matter of applying them correctly, defining which are primary ones and which ones are only used on occasions to set certain elements of the design apart. The mainly warm color palette reflects the openness and friendliness of this company. In different slides I show and explain to the audience about my color decisions for the creation of their website.

Veerle has a blog post outlining how the panel covered everything from colour theory to cultural differences, accessibility to gadgets for professionals. The post is full of tidbits of information, and it'll whet your appetite to see the panel itself. (The SXSW panels and presentations have been making their way to YouTube in bits and pieces over the past few days, so we'll see if this one gets there soon.)

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