"When you analyze or choose colors for communication, keep in mind that we respond to colors because of our experiences within both the natural and cultural worlds--but our associations with color are not fixed. For example, we might associate light blue with a warm summer sky or with the glow of winter ice. Black is the color people in the United States associate with death; in some Asian countries, white is the color for mourning. How people understand or respond to colors thus depends on the contexts in which they see colors.
"The colors of a photograph or page layout contribute substantially to our emotional responses. Our responses are not random but instead have much to do with what we have learned to associate with different colors.
"To analyze and use color rhetorically, you need not only your cultural knowledge, but also some vocabulary." -- Wysocki & Lynch, Compose, Design, Advocate.
Digication allows you to adjust the color of your pages and backgrounds by editing your CSS code or by choosing Background Color to reveal a color palette under Tools > Customize:
Just as text and essays have rhetorical features -- tone, level of detail, your attitude toward your readers -- color has deeply rhetorical effects and should be used with intention and with care.
One common problem with color is when writers choose low-contrast font/background combinations, making reading difficult:
Notice some of the differences in contrast and readability when you visit web sites and FYW Digital Writing Portfolios; you will see that writers make intentional reader-based choices that support reading and comprehension:
Rhetorical choices & decisions
Again, your color choices are deeply rhetorical choices. We can analyze color choices in the same way that we do text, where the rhetorical effects might be perceived as silly, serious, inviting, shocking, professional, scholarly, playful, comforting, immature, or sophisticated.
Most color-literate writers and designers begin by learning about "warm" and "cool" colors and their effects:
The effect of cool colors might be calm, professional, inviting, and measured. The effect of warm colors might be stunning, energetic, and urgent.
Horticulturists inquire into color as it appears in nature:
Writers and designers inquire into rhetorical effects:
When choosing colors for your Digital Writing Portfolio, keep in mind that your choices will have immediate rhetorical effects — positive, negative, jarring, inviting, or otherwise — and will often set the tone for how readers interact with, and assess, your work.
This rhetorical awareness can also help in reflection:
- What visual elements do you use and what are their effects?
- How is a visual text composed formally, and why is it composed that way?
- What are your intended rhetorical effects, and what steps did you take to achieve those effects?