DES 1.3 - Do not convey information with colour alone

Colour will not be available to all people, for example people who:

  • Are colour blind;
  • Use non-visual output such as:
    • screen readers;
    • Braille output devices;
  • Use greyscale screens;
  • Print information on mono printers.

You must ensure that these people do not miss out on essential information by not relying solely on colour to present information.

  • Use colour - but use a non-colour dependent means of providing the information as well:
    • Add extra information, e.g:
      • Informative words like "(new)",
      • Characters like "*" to indicate required fields on forms,
      • Icons (with appropriate alternative text - see DES 4.1;)
    • use section headings etc. to separate items into clear separate categories rather than just colour coding them.

Tip: colour is often used to highlight:

  • New items on a list;
  • Required information on forms;
  • Locations of errors in forms;
  • The current item or page in nav bars, menus and lists.

Watch out for these areas in particular.

Appearance of images to people with color blindness. Poor: Click on the green circle To show new items use redundant indication e.g. Add the word (new) - do not just highlight with colour  Mandatory fields on forms should not be shown by colour alone - this example uses (*)