Best Practices for Color and Depth in Graphic Design

Instructor Profile (1)


This week I had the opportunity to experiment with color and depth while creating a graphic for my Community of Inquiry Framework course.  A few pieces of information stood out to me when I was learning about color and depth.  I was not aware of the three color attributes; psychological, physiological, and learning related (Lohr, 2008).  In my past studies, I had only learned about the psychological impact of color, so it was interesting to learn more about how color can represent meaning, such as white and the connection to purity.  I immediately thought of a design documentary I had watched a long time ago (the name escapes me now) that discussed how the Diet Coke designers deliberately chose a whiteish hue to for the main part of the can and red for the logo to indicate a “reversal” from the sugary regular Coke’s red with white logo design.  It was a psychological color choice, for sure, but the white hue also made consumers associate Diet Coke with words like “clean” or “pure”.

As far as instructional design for online learning is concerned, color and depth have to be used with a purpose in mind.  As Lohr (2008) indicated, color has the ability to enhance the learning process or detract from the learning process.  Additionally, depth, especially with text, has the ability to make words stand out from the page or screen.  Knowing this, I set off to create another graphic element for my course with color and depth in mind.

Note: The instructor profile infographic serves two purposes: 1) it introduces myself to the students that are taking my course, and 2) it is an example of the instructor profile I will be discussing in the teaching presence portion of the third unit.

Justification of Color/Depth-Considered Design

  1. Describe your users (people that will see the typography in the unit).

The users of my unit will be educators, either undergraduate or graduate level, that are learning the Community of Inquiry (COI) Framework in relation to online course design.  It is assumed that they are adults with at least one student experience in online education.  The users would be capable of reading college-level material.

      2. Why does your design solution work?


Color: The infographic I created uses contrast to separate portions of the infographic.  My website for the course will use various blues, grays, whites, and blacks.  I created the infographic with the overall color scheme in mind.  Gray, white, and black look professional and provide a good contrast for most users.  The blue color was added for the color’s ability to invoke feelings of serenity and tranquility.  The Community of Inquiry Framework is supposed to help educators connect easier with their students, but it can be a huge change for some educators.  I wanted to reduce the feelings of stress as the students (educators) learn about the CoI Framework.

Depth:  When I attempted to use drop-shadowing, I did not like the appearance.  Therefore, I used bold fonts in all caps for the heading categories to improve learner focus on the headings.  The adjustments made in regard to scale ensure that the headings do not blend in with the text.

3.  What did you learn from the “user-test”?

My user-test was performed on the same individual from last week’s assignment.  He did not have any suggestions and noted that the colors really “pop out” when he views each section.

4.  What changes did you make to the design after the user-test?

I have not made any changes because the feedback was positive.  I will if my classmates indicate a change needs to be made.



Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle                    River, NJ: Pearson Education