I was intrigued by this article in the New York Times. In brief, it reviews some tests on the relationship between colour and cognitive performance, and highlights the ways in which the brain is affected by colour in the environment. For example studies seem to suggest that exposure to the colour red promotes accuracy, attention to detail, and fact recall, whereas a blue environment promotes creative thinking and imagination.
Yellow seems to make people eat more food. Go figure.
I have a weak spot for studies like this. I recall reading of one that demonstrated quite convincingly that creativity in finding an elegant solution to a software development problem was stifled by the playing of music through headphones. How many developers do we know who do just that very thing, albeit it in many cases to drown out the babble of the marketing department that they are colocated with? That’s workplace creativity being strangled, that is.
What I find interesting about this colour study is that two desirable aspects of the software development process — creativity and accuracy — are apparantly promoted by different colours, and these aspects are also desirable at different stages in the development cycle.
Designing an ETL process? Creativity … get yourself in the blue room, and those intuitive leaps that suddenly simplify the whole process will flow naturally to your pen. Implementing the design as code? Red room for you, and you’ll be focused on syntax and detail, with fewer bugs and faster development.
And keep yellow out of the work place. The sedentary office life and donuts in the morning are already our worst enemy.