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I am doing design work for an app that serves two different purposes, one part is for permanent users and the other is for temporary users but the apps are under the same brand. The permanent users should not be using the app that temporary users have access to so I wanted to create separation aside from the text on the apps to "show" the difference between the two. Is using two separate color palettes wise in this case?

I understand that brand identity is important but color cues also play a factor in UX.

The purpose of the app is for entry into an office space. The permanent user app is for paying customers that can create invitations to send to their visitors/employees to enter an office after hours. The invitation is sent to the guest by the permanent user, the temporary user has like a one time use pass. I want to visually create a clear distinction between the two as to not possibly confuse the permanent user. The color palette that I'm using for the permanent user app is based off our main palette, the temp user one is not.

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I don't think there are any hard and fast rules here.

Branding is a concern, however the primary app color can easily shift based upon branding colors perhaps. For example, if the branding contains blue, yellow and black, one app could use the blue as the primary and yellow as the secondary, the temp app could reverse that.

Another option is a bastard callout. Some banner or non-cohesive element in the temp app to designate it as "temporary" or "free". If it's a bastard element, branding colors are not as great a concern, you actually choose coloring that is a direct contradiction to the overall app coloring. For example a blue/black based app... with an orange "free" banner in a corner.

  • Thanks you for the input. As far as the "temporary" app, it's not necessarily a free version of the app but it's an app that would only be accessed by invited guests of paid users. The temporary users wouldn't try to become paid users because the service is sold to businesses only, not to individuals. That being said the color palette I went with on the guest app doesn't reflect colors of the logo and original branding and I originally did this to draw a clear distinction between the two apps so that the "paid" users wouldn't get confused. – Brad Jackson Jun 22 '17 at 15:49
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I think this is a question of context. If the temporary user is using the app to achieve a different type of outcome than the permanent user, then maybe the colour coding should be different to reflect this. If it's simply a question of 'time spent on app', then there isn't a need to have any type of difference. If it's a case of Free vs Premium then you could use a difference to reflect that, but you don't want to have bad UX for free users otherwise users may not upgrade. In the end, you can only provide mockups and let the business owner make the final call. You'll need to have good reasons to support your argument. The arguments need to help the business owner understand UX (remember they are not experts) and you need to clearly communicate the benefits to the end user. Another important thing to consider is 'brandalism' - are you moving away from the brand colours when doing these things? If there are strict guidelines, which there should be, you might not be able to randomly add in a new colour.

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