Does Color Really Make a Difference in Drive Data Display?

Does Color Really Make a Difference in Drive Data Display?

Posted on June 24, 2015 by SPOC Automation


For younger workers it may seem unbelievable that any display exist without color. But does color really make a difference in drive data display? The answer is an emphatic Yes!

Effective displays:

  • Organize data so that it is easy to understand relationships and current status.

  • Use contrast to draw attention to specific details.

  • Group analogous or similar data.

  • Enable management by exception.

  • Quickly communicate the most important data.

Color is a key tool in display design. It helps draw the eye to important information. Color can be used very effectively to signal two key attributes to the user:

  1. Similarity. The human eye will naturally group like colors, drawing immediate attention to the commonality.

  2. Salience. Color groupings will also quickly draw attention to the difference between the groups.

In addition, color can spur action when the color has a defined meaning to the user (e.g., Yellow means Caution).

Designs that incorporate color:

  • Provide a visual emphasis on what requires attention.

  • Overlay a logical organization on the data.

  • Focus attention on what is currently happening.

  • Help the user see the big picture.

  • Enable the user to easily and rapidly compare values.

  • Reveal patterns that may otherwise remain hidden.

Color Design Tips

How well a color display does in conveying information and catching attention depends in large part on the design. Here are a few tips.

  • Limit the number of colors. A few key colors make the display clear. Too many and more thought is required to understand the data.

  • Use categorical palettes. Use color to divide data into defined buckets.

  • Leverage color meaning. Red, Green and Yellow are commonly used for Stop, Go and Caution, for example, Be aware of cultural uses of color and use that to your advantage. Color combinations that are innately understood are less open to misinterpretation.

  • Pick aesthetically pleasing colors. Users have to look at your display. Don’t make it painful.

  • Design to purpose. Operational screens are different from analytical. If the goal is to ensure that equipment is functioning properly, use color to indicate potential problems. If the goal is to analyze, use color to highlight anomalies in trend lines, for example.

The SPOC WiseGuy display uses color to speed operational review. Our color palette makes it easy to identify pending problems (Yellow) and current issues (Red). Our customers tell us that color helps focus their attention and speed their reactions. Given the volume of data that a drive can generate and the interrelationships between data, we think color is an indispensable tool for better understanding.

See How a VFD with a WiseGuy Out Performs a Soft-Starter


Topics: WiseGuy Interface, Production Efficiency


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