Thursday, 18 February 2010

My Selector Coloring book: Selector Tips 3

This topic mainly applies to Selector version 15 lovers. You can do a bit of color tweakage in Version 12 (that’s the old, ugly, but gorgeously stable and well thought out dos version), but it’s really the windows version of Selector that lets you play with looks, fonts and colors. There’s lots of configuration potential in GSelector, too, but that hasn’t fully rolled out worldwide, and I’m quite sure that these remarks will also apply just as much to other scheduling engines. Bottom line? Customise away, but you should avoid the explosion in the paint factory effect at all costs.

Why is it that contemporary software design is so…. uniform? There’s a very good reason. Computer screens can display a LOT of information. Color is a great help is highlighting areas of concern, and you can often set conditions in your software package – not just your scheduling engine – which will throw a focus on an area of interest, by using a specific color.

But if you make things too busy, your brain has to work a lot harder to take it all in. If the screen is just too busy, you tend to jump past all this information.

Now let’s consider the Editor screen. That’s the one that displays your schedule, or running order. You’ve got to review an entire day of output – that's at least 24 screens, maybe much more.  If the entire screen is a maze of color, you’re going to have a hard time concentrating as hard as you need to for your editing job… which means you might let something slip past… which means the output might sound lousy.

So that’s why I suggest you go easy on the color.  If you like to differentiate between different categories onscreen, that’s fine – but try using shades of the same color, rather than violently clashing and distinct colors. Leave the fireworks for the emergency conditions: schedule failures and the like. And think about whether you need to apply color to the entire page – you can restrict it to one or two fields if you prefer, leaving the rest of the window more uniform.

Above all, make it easy on yourself, so you can make those critical editorial decisions: getting the mix right is way more important than having a pretty screen display that your audience doesn’t know or care about.

If this has been useful, pass it on to friends and colleagues. It’s on me. If you'd like more on a 1 to 1 basis, reply to me through the blog, or email me via the website (link at left under Work-related)

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