The eight purposes of colour in visual design


Colour attracts our attention more than greyscale shades and can be used as a highlighter.


The only difference between greyscale shades is brightness. Colours adds hue as another dimension and can show that two things are separate.


Because we can recognise the difference between colours, they can show you that things belong to certain groups or in order. This includes cases where a change in hue or shade represents a spectrum or scale, such as time.


Colour can represent a meaning in your interface. For example, all interactive elements could be orange.

Cultural practical meaning

Groups of people associate colour with practical meaning. Red means stop.

Cultural emotional meaning

Groups of people associate colour with emotional meaning. Red means danger.

Visual interest

A colourful interface is more interesting than a greyscale interface.

Realism and comfort

We don’t live in a greyscale world, so colour makes can make objects look more realistic, and make us feel more comfortable.