How Much Do You Know about Colors In E-Learning?

Published by Dr. Anne-Marie Fiore on

Recently, I was reading an article on e-learning on the use of color. The author gave many good suggestions of how to use color, when to use it, and the meanings of an assortment of colors. It was an informative article.

It made me think about how little choice instructional designers have when creating e-learning for colleges and universities. Many times, the college or university supplies a branding guideline and that is that. No choice for colors, logos, and graphics.


I was working on redesigning a school district website with the colors of black and orange. One of the issues with the earlier site was that the wrong shade of orange was used. After doing some research, I found that the orange was actually yellow #ffcc66. Whether #ffcc66 is considered yellow or orange, members of the school department perceived that their color was Halloween orange, #ff9900As a designer, the only color choices I had were in tweaking the values of orange and black to make everyone happy.

Color Encyclopedia: Information and Conversion Websites

While working on the orange and black school district, I found a few color websites that were extremely helpful with exploring complementary color, analogous color, split complementary color, triadic color. tetradic color, and monochromatic color. One of the websites color-hex. Color-hex gives information about colors including color models (RGB,HSL,HSV and CMYK), triadic colors, monochromatic colors, and analogous colors. In addition, Color Hex generates a simple CSS code for the selected color, and html element samples are provided.

Another color resource is Color Hexa, Color encyclopedia : Information and conversion. Enter your color value and check out the information. Here is the information on “pure red”. One of the interesting items on this website is the Color Blindness Simulator. You can see your palette as a colorblind person would see it. The simulator can aid you in reaching all learners.

Yellow and Black?

A friend of mine started his Bachelor studies at a college found in 2018 with the color scheme of black and yellow. I must admit that I found that a shocking combination for a college. Yellow is problematic on the web, but combined with black? Sibagraphics publishes several good web design and color resources. Here is what they say about yellow.

“Yellow stimulates mental activity, generates muscle energy and attracts attention – it is the color most visible to the human eye. Thus, yellow objects move to the forefront. Students who study in yellow rooms do better in exams. With overuse, yellow can be disturbing and promote anxiety. Babies cry more in yellow rooms. Yellow against black denotes a warning … the sting of the bee.

Yellow is not a practical color to use when selling expensive items to men … they perceive it as an untrustworthy and childish … and avoid yellow if you wish to evoke safety and stability. Care is needed with shades of yellow as they can lose their warmth and appear dirty” Posadas, 2017).

Why would a college choose a color that is perceived as untrustworthy and childish? Why would they choose a color that does not evoke safety and stability? Denotes a warning? Sting of the bee?

In e-learning, there is no reason why you shouldn’t experiment with shades of your client’s “mascot” colors to your eLearning lessons. If you haven’t done so already, try experimenting with complementary, analogous, triadic, tetradic or monochromatic colors in your courses to achieve the best results.


Color hex color codes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from

Color hex—Colorhexa. Com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from ColorHexa website:

Discover the best collection of eLearning articles, concepts, software and eLearning resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from ELearning Industry website:

Posadas, S. (2017). The meaning of colours. Retrieved from Sibagraphics website:

Dr. Anne-Marie Fiore

I am a learning experience design consultant focused on developing engaging learning experiences. Although my career has always been related to education in some way, I have worked as a technology director, curriculum specialist, college professor, and now an online instructional designer.