Selecting accessible fonts for your copy is not just to help users with disabilities and special needs – it increases legibility for all users. This bite-sized guide will help you make your font selections…

Hero shot for Testing Fonts for Accessibility, by Colin Shanley
Hero shot for Testing Fonts for Accessibility, by Colin Shanley

Selecting the right fonts for a design project is always a tricky business. For a start, your client will likely require a particular typeface (or even a bespoke one) be used. But the last thing you want is to take your designs out to user research only to discover that the text is illegible (or at least difficult to read) for many users. Bear in mind that:

That’s quite an audience. If…


Colour in Optical Illusions

Hero image for Colour in Optical Illusions by Colin Shanley
Hero image for Colour in Optical Illusions by Colin Shanley

Were you aware that you see in black and white in low light. Most do not realise this. But next time you get up in the middle of the night in a darkened bedroom, have a look around. You will see only black and white – no colours. Now scan your eyes over the hero image for this article, above. Let your eyes wander over it. The discs appear to be moving, but they are not – it is a static image.

Everyone loves optical illusions. To be clear, an illusion is an erroneous mental representation of something. Colour is…


Even a high-level understanding of the emotions and associations of colours will improve your designs and conversion rates

Hero shot for Colour Psychology Quick Reference Cards, by Colin Shanley
Hero shot for Colour Psychology Quick Reference Cards, by Colin Shanley

Show me the green, because I’m down and feeling blue. If you do, I will be in the pink. If you don’t — either because of that streak of yellow down your back or because of your black heart — I’ll see red. And by the time I’m done with you, you’ll be waving the white flag.

Did you know that wedding dresses used to be green and not white? Why? Because green is associated with fertility and growth. And back in the day — that being the 15th Century — procreation was considered more important than chastity, which is…


How to mix colours of equal brightness for your colour palette

Hero shot for Mixing Colours of Equal Luminance — Part 2, by Colin Shanley
Hero shot for Mixing Colours of Equal Luminance — Part 2, by Colin Shanley

In this two-part series, I show you how to create colours for your palette that are of equal luminance. In Part 1 I explained exactly what luminance (perceived brightness) and relative luminance (relative to solid white or black) actually are. The way in which screen pixels and subpixels emit light, and the way in which the eye perceives it, makes matching luminance of different colours problematic.

The conundrum for designers is, say, how to match the luminance of an orange colour with a purple colour. How do I make this purple as purple as that orange is orange?

A not…


How to mix colours of equal brightness for your colour palette

Hero shot for Mixing Colours of Equal Luminance, by Colin Shanley
Hero shot for Mixing Colours of Equal Luminance, by Colin Shanley

Many designers I meet, especially fledgling or middleweight ones, do not have a genuine understanding of luminance. They know that some colours are brighter than others, that high contrast is necessary for accessibility, and that low contrast can be used for subtlety and aesthetic effect.

But I see relatively few who use luminance properly when creating a palette. They tend to mix Hex/RGB values using some tool or other, largely by eye. This gets them there are thereabouts but will always lose out to a correctly formulated palette based on luminance.

Luminance is incredibly — incredibly — important in colour…


Running Sketch in a virtual machine doesn’t work. There is an alternative route…

Hero shot for ‘Sketch in a Virtual Machine? Here’s a Workaround’, by Colin Shanley
Hero shot for ‘Sketch in a Virtual Machine? Here’s a Workaround’, by Colin Shanley

There are many reasons why you might want to run Sketch in a virtual machine. Perhaps you are a developer and wish to work in an isolated environment while you create plugins or assistants. Or maybe you want to check out the latest Sketch beta without messing with your current installation. Whatever your reasoning, you are in for a disappointment — Sketch does not run in a virtual machine.

You can enthusiastically create a virtual machine with VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop and install Sketch in it. But try and run it, and you will get this disheartening error dialog:


What are Sketch Assistants and how do you use them?

Hero image for Sketch Assistants article by Colin Shanley.
Hero image for Sketch Assistants article by Colin Shanley.

With Sketch 68 comes a revolutionary new addition to design workflow — Sketch Assistants. In a nutshell, Assistants bring document integrity checking to Sketch. They allow you to define rules against which documents will be checked in real-time. Should anything you do to your document violate any rule, the Assistants pane notifies you and gives you an easy means to resolve it (or, indeed, ignore it).

This is a godsend for ever-growing design teams that need more house rules for closer collaboration, more complex UI designs, brand guidelines, and accessibility.

In this article, I shall walk you through getting Sketch…


How to test a legacy colour palette for accessibility and persuade a corporation to adopt changes to it.

Palette matrix of foreground and background colour combinations.
Palette matrix of foreground and background colour combinations.

Accessibility has always been a tough sell. Admittedly, less so than in the ‘nineties, when no prospective client was interested. But even today — more enlightened times — the majority of companies I encounter still prefer to make a lot of noise about accessibility without actually making a serious effort to address it (that is not an exaggeration, and I am talking about household names).

Creating a colour palette from scratch is not something designers — even freelancers — get to do very often. Sure, there are greenfield projects out there, but they are slightly less commonplace than talking horses…

Colin Shanley

Colin has been solving problems and designing applications for more than 30 years. His designs touch our lives every day.

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