Oh-so-many colors

The app and website that I generally turn to for weather forecasts is Dark Sky. Recently they made some great changes to the app (like being able to save locations, bizarre that that took so long to implement and that you can still only save six). Alongside these other changes, they swapped out their old monochrome icons with new colorful ones from The Iconfactory. The icons are lovely, the artists who created them did a fantastic job. But when I see them all lined up on the screen, I get… something resembling anxiety.

I really freaked out a little bit when I first saw them, and I still find them very unsettling, and the whole thing made me reflect on my relationship with colorful things… I’ve always gravitated toward monochromatic photography, I spend as much of my computing time as possible in fairly monochromatic terminals, my blog looks like this, I had the same sort of disturbed feeling when Microsoft switched to color emoji (and still pine for the monochromatic ones), I miss laptops with monochromatic LCDs (and still play Game Boy DX games on the Game Boy Light), etc. Obviously this isn’t a universal issue in my life, I love a lot of colorful animation and other media1, but even then… I definitely prefer muted palettes.

I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to write about this, though if nothing else it’s something to mull over in design. I’m sure the muted palette of this blog is received negatively by some, just as very colorful things seem to cause my mind considerable unease. I think part of it is simply that more colors make for a busier presentation – it’s more visual data providing the same amount of information. And to that tack, perhaps the constant bombardment of ‘eye-catching’ advertising ubiquitous throughout the world, providing nothing but noise competing with the signal of life has taken its toll.

  1. Particularly, work like that of Nicole Claveloux came to mind because that sense of unease brought on by her vibrant artwork. I’m sure this is intentional to an extent, but I also wonder how much more I related to that tension compared to others. ↩︎