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I started early today with my usual routine of cappuccino, web stats, and a quick browse of the new sites and ended up getting distracted by an article in The Globe and Mail.  A study has just been released that a blue computer background enhances creativity while a red background enhances attention to detail.  This follows other research that blue is calming while red agitates (these are culturally specific generalizations). 

I have had a blue background on my desktop for 10 years or more, and we chose blue as the dominant colour in the interface for SiteCM.   I always felt that we want to calm users.  The last thing a computer interface should do is agitate the users!  With the new research though I got to thinking about which is preferable; creativity or attention to detail?  Should we allow users to set their own colour scheme?  Should the Site Admin be able to assign an interface colour for each Content Owner?  Bob is high strung so he gets a blue interface, while Jane has never been good with details so she gets red.

Which would I rather have?  Creativity or Detail.  I am lucky in that our team has both types and they all recognize the benefits of each strength.  But from these thoughts I was reminded of Richard Florida's hypothesis that all wealth is generated from creativity.  You need creativity for the big ideas to start things but in my experience, you are dead without the details.   Maybe I should have a desktop that is blue in the morning and red in the afternoon.

And in a weird bit of happenstance, I was catching up with the blog at Analytic Design Group and Karyn had a post about the effect of colour on bike shopping and ties it elegantly back to designing the user experience...

I hope you are having a colourful day!
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Friday, February 13th, 2009 at 8:59AM
Hey, Rob. Let's think about WHY humans have evolved to pay attention to red. Red is the colour of BLOOD. We can see blood easily - especially if it is on one of our kids. Yes red attracts attention but it also makes us uneasy - mildly agitated. That's why McDs restaurants feature red: they don't want you relaxing and hanging around. If you want people to feel uneasy when viewing your site, feature red prominently. If you want them to relax and enjoy their visit, maybe read your text, feature blue.

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