I colored a couple of table columns on this page and I think I've overdone it: now it's starting to look to me like a Tijuana whorehouse.

Are there already too many colors on the page?


Any other comments also gratefully received by this non-designer.

  • 1
    Tijuana whorehouses use spreadsheets? Well, I guess even prostitutes need to keep track of their budgets and expenditures. Jun 30, 2011 at 15:54
  • Link is broken.
    – Mick
    Mar 15, 2013 at 5:23

4 Answers 4


I'm going to have to do some research on the brothel scene south of the border to make an educated comparison. I'll get back to you on that.

As for the table, I wouldn't say there's too much color, but there's definitely a lot of 'chart junk'.

For starters, I'd omit all the column and row borders. They are redundant as the data creates the visual columns, and your zebra striping creates the rows. Removing the borders on every TD will add some much-needed white space as well.

The type is also painfully tiny.

  • 1
    Great points, all of them. (Do give us an update and a link to your Flickr stream when you get back from Tijuana.) Jun 30, 2011 at 18:25

I'm relatively unfamiliar with Tijuana whorehouses, so can't comment either way as to resemblance. :-)

I do think you're confusing aesthetics with informatics and ergonomics.

The design decision in a case like this isn't whether it "looks ugly" but whether the information you are trying to highlight is too much or too little -- too much hides and devalues what's important, too little defeats the purpose. Secondarily, the question is whether you are highlighting things appropriately, adequately and/or in a manner reminiscent of houses of ill repute.

This page is all about conveying information. Color increases the communication "bandwidth" by adding information without occupying additional space. It also direction attention to things that (presumably) need it. In that regard, your up/down/flat red/green/none color scheme is appropriate and effective, assuming that the highlights come on as soon as there's a change and fade at an appropriate rate.

Consider whether the "st" column needs to be highlighted at all. Highlighting everything is the same as highlighting nothing, since in either case no additional information is being communicated. Highlight exceptions only, and you have added at least the information that "something changed."

I can't comment on the embedded bar charts in the "Bid x Ask" column, except that they might be better light gray. The blue detracts somewhat from the impact of the red/green alerts. Perhaps they should change color for x minutes after they change value.

Something that IS a design point: The top bar is very intrusive with that lurid green. It's definitely not something that I would want to be looking at all day. Here, you would do well to take a cue from Apple and make it entirely neutral. Neutral is bland, boring, and doesn't intrude or distract when you have to keep track of a lot of changing information. It helps the smaller, important, colored bits to stand out. If the user's attention is a little distracted, he or she might not catch a green or red flag, especially in the first few rows, if there's already a huge green bar on top.

The real survey is when you put it in front of some people who will actually have to use it, perhaps in a few variations, and ask them whether it works. Form follows (depends on and derives from) function, never the other way around (unless you're Apple).

  • 1
    I agree completely: too much highlighting highlights nothing. One thing I would add to this (forgive me if you hit upon it, and I skimmed past it) is that green and red/orange are a potential problem for people with color-blindness ( see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blindness )
    – horatio
    Jun 30, 2011 at 17:22
  • @horatio: I didn't bring up the color blindness point, mostly because red (down) and green (up) were such obvious choices in the context, but it's a good point, and definitely worth mentioning. Jun 30, 2011 at 18:23

This question's answer depends on perception, more guys will see, more you'll get comments,some will say its good, some will say it's awkward. Now talking about me this look good it needs improvement,just use another tone of green and some nice real sleek looking icons and you're done. Right now your icon not working with the green, that's why it's looking like a Tijuana whorehouse. The color you're highlighting with they also need some detail, try another scheme and everything will be perfect.


I wouldn't say too many colors as much as clutter, because as far as I can see the table itself has only three different colors, and they don't even cover the entire thing.

I'd consider doing some of the things some of the earlier answers have mentioned, and maybe give the table some cellpadding or spacing. It's really cluttered, and the text is quite small.

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