If you don’t like the default colors in data visualizations such as bar chart or pie chart, I suggest you check out a color palette that is designed for use in data visualization.
It is now easy and common to visualize a data set using a variety of tools; however, the data visualizations generated usually come with a color scheme that does not look very appealing. As an example, here’s a data viz created using infogr.am, showing the default color scheme:
This set of six default colors doesn’t look very appealing and can use some improvements. Infogr.am allows user to tweak the default colors, but most people, without some art training, are at a loss as to what colors would work better.
Then I read about a recommended color palette in Stephen Few’s book, Show Me the Numbers, a popular text on data visualization. With this color palette, I made some changes to the above sample pie chart. Some people may argue otherwise, but to me, this color scheme looks much better:
Few’s color palette has nine colors – he actually recommends not to use too many colors in one data visualization. The sample chart above uses six out of the nine colors, and below is a chart showing Few’s nine-color palette; colors in this palette can be tweaked lighter or darker to suit different uses.
In his book, Few provides RGB codes for colors in the palette, and I took the liberty to convert the RGB codes to HEX codes for use on the web. Try these colors for your web-bound data visualizations:
- 4D4D4D (gray)
- 5DA5DA (blue)
- FAA43A (orange)
- 60BD68 (green)
- F17CB0 (pink)
- B2912F (brown)
- B276B2 (purple)
- DECF3F (yellow)
- F15854 (red)
Want to learn more about data visualization? Here are some popular books on Amazon that you can check out:
- How to create a free heat map with Google Fusion Tables: A tutorial for beginners
- Why data visualization matters?
- 3 ingredients of effective data visualization: audience, message, the right chart
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