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Creating Custom Color Themes for Powerful Dashboard Data Visualization
Creating Custom Color Themes for Powerful Dashboard Data Visualization

Learn how to create effective custom color themes to create visually appealing, informative, and intuitive dashboards.

Written by Jana Gutberga
Updated over a week ago

Choosing the right color scheme for your dashboards is key to conveying information clearly and intuitively. In this article, we will dive into the process of creating inclusive and accessible qualitative color themes for effective data visualization while maintaining visual brand connection.

Table of contents:

The Role of Color in Dashboard Design

Color is a powerful tool in data visualization, aiding in the perception and interpretation of data. When used effectively, color can enhance patterns, highlight important insights, and guide users' attention through your dashboard. However, using color without a clear strategy can result in confusion and misinterpretation. Therefore, understanding the best practices for designing qualitative color schemes is essential in creating visually appealing and informative dashboards in Ardoq.

Qualitative Color Themes: Choosing the Best Colors to Represent Categorical Data

Use qualitative color themes to represent categorical data such as “Hosting type” or “Lifecycle phase”. In a qualitative color theme each color corresponds to a distinct category or group. For instance, some hosting type categories can be: “On premise” and “Cloud”.

When designing a qualitative color theme for a dashboard, it is important to select colors that are easily distinguishable from one another. This ensures that dashboard consumers can readily identify different categories without confusion or ambiguity.

Guidelines to design an exceptional qualitative color theme:

  • Select a set of colors that have sufficient contrast and are visually distinct.

  • Avoid using shades of the same color as they can be challenging to differentiate.

  • Opt for a diverse range of colors across the color spectrum. Tools such as color palette generators can assist in finding harmonious and visually appealing combinations.

  • Consider the emotional connotations and conceptual connection of colors to help align the theme with the desired tone or message. For example, using positive colors attract attention to positive values and negative colors emphasize negative values in the chart, improving data comprehension among dashboard viewers.

Color holds a crucial role in communicating emotions and conveying messages effectively. Various colors are associated with specific feelings, which can vary across different cultures. For example, red is commonly associated with positive emotions such as excitement and desire, but it can also evoke negative emotions such as danger and alarm.

To ensure clarity and avoid any potential emotional connotations, it is best to avoid using a single color for categorical data. Utilizing different colors for each category instead helps in clearly distinguishing and representing the various data groups.

Qualitative Color Theme examples

Below, some inspiring examples of impactful qualitative color themes that will elevate the visual appeal and informational value of your dashboards. To effortlessly recreate these qualitative themes, simply copy the HEX codes provided and click on the “Paste from clipboard” button located in your Organization Settings > Dashboard color themes.

👉 For detailed instructions on creating a qualitative color theme, refer to the "How to create a dashboard" KB article.

Enterprise qualitative theme

HEX codes:

#073857, #4E91DD, #A13764, #7D9099,  #32C3A4, #DADADA, #2F63A0, #9C7E50

Executive qualitative theme

HEX codes:

#F1F1F1, #202020, #7E909A, #1C4E80, #A5D8DD, #EA6A47, #0091D5, #ECC038

Creating Effective Dashboard Color Themes with Visual Brand Connection

While brand colors are essential for establishing brand identity and recognition, they may not always be the optimal choice when it comes to dashboard color themes. Brand colors are carefully crafted to evoke emotions and enhance aesthetics, primarily focusing on marketing objectives. However, when it comes to data visualization, different considerations come into play.

Using unmodified brand colors in a dashboard can present challenges such as poor readability, confusion, and misinterpretation of data. The limited range and variation of brand colors might not provide the necessary contrast and differentiation required for effectively representing categorical or numerical data.

To maximize the potential of your dashboards, it's important to design custom color themes that follow data visualization best practices. These themes ensure clarity, readability, and accurate communication of data-driven insights. By customizing your color theme, you can prioritize the distinctiveness and contrast needed to highlight patterns, differences, and relationships within the data.

While brand colors may not always align perfectly with dashboard color themes, there are creative strategies to incorporate branding elements into the design. By carefully selecting complementary colors or strategically incorporating brand colors as accents or highlights in the color theme, you can strike a harmonious balance between maintaining visual brand connection and prioritizing the clarity and effectiveness of data visualization.

Creating Inclusive and Accessible Dashboards

Accessibility is a crucial consideration when creating custom color themes. It plays a vital role in enabling easy and accurate interpretation of data for individuals with visual impairments or color vision deficiencies. By prioritizing accessibility, your dashboards can effectively communicate information to a broader audience.

Below, some guidelines to help you make your dashboards more accessible to everyone:

  • Choose colors with enough contrast to ensure readability for all users.

  • Use tools or guidelines to create colorblind-friendly palettes. For instance, avoid the following color combinations that can be challenging for people with different types of colorblindness: red-green, blue-yellow, blue-purple, green-brown, red-orange, blue-green.

  • Provide alternative means of conveying information such as naming charts.

By following these guidelines, you can create a custom color theme for data visualization that promotes inclusivity and ensures that your dashboard is accessible to a wider range of users.

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