Social Media Graphics: Colour

Whether you've been following along since the post about typography or this is your first time visiting, thanks for stopping by!

In this mini blog series, I'm tackling topics related to social media graphics to help you make smart decisions in your graphic tool of choice. You might be using Canva, Adobe Express, or any number of free image tools to create your graphics, but there are some elements of good design that will always be the same.

Once you've chosen good, readable and legible fonts, and arranged the right amount of whitespace between the elements in your design, you might be wondering about colours. Maybe you started with your own brand colours. Or maybe you found a great colour palette in the tool you're using.

Even if the colours you chose look really good together, there may be a limited number of ways to use the colours to maximize engagement with your content.

An estimated 300 million people in the world have colour vision deficiency, or colour blindness. There's also nearly a billion people in the world who have some degree of vision loss.

Any number of these people could be in your target audience or friends list.

Take this example graphic, for instance, based on the colour palette of an image I came across on Instagram.

A social media graphic comprised of a circular pie chart shape with text overlaid. The colour palette is a range of neutral brown tones, with the text appearing difficult to read against the background colours on the pie shape.

It's nice that all the colours are close together, and there's lovely warmth in this palette. However, none of that makes the text legible. Combine the too-similar colours with a small screen, and even those of us with few vision difficulties struggle to read the text.

Don't just take my word for it.

Using Adobe's free Color Contrast Analyzer, it's easy to see if the text colour has enough contrast against the background colour. And if your initial selections don't pass the check, the Analyzer makes suggestions to help you reach that high level of contrast.

A screenshot from the Adobe Color Contrast Analyzer showing that the two selected colours do not have sufficient contrast to pass the accessibility check. To the right, alternate colour combinations are recommended.

We can check all the colours in the palette from the first image and come up with some alternate options that all pass the accessibility check.

A modified social graphic, the same text and style as the first image—only this time, the contrast of text to background colour is much clearer.

There are a lot of colour contrast tools out there—another favourite of mine is the Accessible color palette builder. This tool lets you input all your colours at once. In turn, it will generate a chart that shows you which colours work as background colours, and which ones work as text colours. You can add more than 2 at a time, making it easy to quickly check your entire colour palette for accessibility issues.

Choosing colours that most people can see will help folks stick around long enough to read your text. No more missing crucial details about sale restrictions or giveaway instructions!

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