My discussion replies
My tip is that each month you ask your Technical Experts for their tip of the month.
I can see several advantages, not least you don't have to do it!
For the last five years I have been running a brand and design consultancy, working with a diverse range of clients from owner managers through to multi-national companies. Over this time I have been developing a range of creative tools and techniques that we have used for client interactions.
For much of this time I have also been co-running a youth group (12 – 16 year olds) and have successfully used a number of the creative tools with the group.
One tool in particular - Cue Cardz - has been hugely successful with strategy groups and youth groups - so much so that I'm developing it as a standalone product. It is an extremely powerful and versatile associative thinking tool and can be used as a five minute ice-breaker, an interactive and stimulating one-off exercise or the central focus of a bite-sized workshop.
As it happens I've recently been asked to develop a variation of the tool for use by the Scouts. Let me know if you'd like more info.
It's an interesting point to raise – in fact a project that we are currently undertaking with the Department for Transport, promoting road safety, threw up the same issue. The fact is that the answer to this could get very complex so my first bit of advice is to keep the solution simple!
There's volumes to read on the subject but with simplicity in mind I reckon just a couple of facts will be useful: first, research suggests that colour deficiencies are more common in men than women, with around 8% of males being affected; second, most often problems revolve around red or green - interesting then that these are the colour used for traffic lights!
The fact is that the complexity of the subject makes it difficult to make definite suggestions as to which colour combinations to use. You simply won't be able to accommodate all the colour deficiencies that are out there! (go to http://more.btexact.com/people/rigdence/colours/Background.htm) and you'll see what I mean. OK, it makes complete sense to limit the impact but unless you're prepared to change the symbol from a traffic light, you're stuck with red and green.
If the symbols are simply being used to indicate “stop” or “go” then my suggestion would be to make a simple design development to the symbols: If there's room, add the words "stop" and "go" to the graphics - either overlaid on the symbols themselves or alongside. If space is at a premium how about simple light ray lines that indicates which colour is lit - perhaps flashing to make it really clear.
However, you mention that the symbols are being used to indicate which parts are completed. With this in mind I’m not convinced that traffic lights are the best graphic device and, if it’s not too painful and costly, you should change them.
Any replacements should rely on shape and tint rather than colour. There are some obvious solutions – e.g. a checkbox with or without a tick to indicate the status – but without seeing the content and context they could be off target.
Whatever you do I'd encourage you to keep it simple. Plus of course you should use this a brand-building exercise - being seen to react swiftly to customer needs is sure to help build the relationship with them!