The use of colour plays a very important part in improving both the usability and appeal of medical devices.
We use it to define key interactions or touch points to make products more intuitive and we use colour to help us refer to features in instructions (i.e. press the ‘blue’ button, grip the ‘yellow’ handle).
We use colour to delineate between therapies and formulation strengths on platform products (i.e. the blue inhaler as the reliever and the brown inhaler as the preventer) and we use colour to make products appeal better to different user groups – bright colours for kids, softer colours for female targeted products, vibrant colours for products that enhance wellbeing, etc.
So with colour being such an incredibly effective tool in the medical designers’ toolkit – where even a small change to a component can open up a regulatory wormhole. How do we ensure the devices we create still remain simple and elegant, how do we avoid them becoming too toy like?
In short, we think it’s about limiting the use of colour to where it’s absolutely necessary and ensuring when we use multiple colours that we stay within a colour family. It okay to use both contrasting and complementary colours but we should only colours that ‘work together’. There are many tools and resources available to help designers define and use colour and here’s a handy little tool that we’ve found to help select colours that work together, a sanity check if you like.