On Pixie we recently redesigned our color palette.
It’s important to choose a good default color palette for your application. For most people the color palette is one of their first impressions of your product, and the palette will largely determine the kinds of things they can make. In addition less than half the people who interact with your product for the first time will even use a custom color, or a different tool. That makes the default choice doubly important.
Let’s say you were stranded on a desert island and only got to take 10 crayons, what would you take? Answering that question is very similar to answering the default palette question.
Since prehistoric times people have enjoyed drawing what they see in their environment. I have a friend, and he wears a blue shirt, so I need the color Shirt Blue. Sometimes he eats apples; I’d better also have Apple Red. The apple came from an apple tree, good thing there’s Leaf Green, and Tree Brown.
Modularity and context are also important. Each of these colors shouldn’t only be a uni-tasker. Shirt Blue can double as Lake Blue when drawn on the ground. Hair Blonde or Hay-bale Yellow? Same color, but it depends on the context. Remember, you’re trapped on an island and need to make these colors count.
The classic defaults are pretty weak. If they had crayola names they’d be something like Maximum Red, Maximum Green, Maximum Blue, Horrendo Cyan, Staring into the Sun Yellow and Good God Man Make it Stop Magenta.
Maybe your friend eats GMO Apples (for maximum redness), as well as wearing outrageous clothing. Mine usually don’t, that’s why I developed the Best Friend’s Apple / Desert Island default color palette.