Elizabeth Allen

Elizabeth Allen
  • Founder and principal at Brazen
  • Toronto, Canada

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Red herrings: debunking the pop psychology of colour

Colour is one of the most powerful tools at a designer's disposal. When used effectively, it can capture attention, convey a message and even toy with emotions. Some of the best designers in the world are those who expertly put colour to work, having it take on this communicative weight in subtle and beautiful ways that are sometimes beyond the viewer's conscious awareness. Unfortunately, however, it’s easy for us to miss the mark when we try to use colour effectively – UX blog posts and articles are full of “pop psychology” knowledge about colour that isn’t backed up by scientific research, or even worse, is just plain wrong. This talk will debunk some of the big colour myths and replace them with scientifically-grounded ways you can level up the use of colour in your own practice. Through fascinating research on colour perception (no science background required, I promise!) and fun visual demos, we’ll explore the RIGHT ways to use colour to communicate emotion, significance, and meaning when designing beautiful and accessible user experiences.


Elizabeth Allen is a UX researcher, cognitive psychology PhD and sporadic banjo-player based in Toronto, Canada. She is the founder & principal of Brazen, a UX research consultancy that helps clients such as Mozilla, Shopify and Wealthsimple identify and solve critical UX problems in their digital and physical products. In addition to doing research, Elizabeth spends a great deal of time teaching, including two online courses on UX research methods for O’Reilly Media and has lectured on psychology and research design at The University of Chicago. When she isn't working, Elizabeth tries to give back by mentoring through HexagonUX and serving on conference committees for UXPA and Strive.