Making the Status Circles accessible to colorblind individuals

Ooh crikey, I didn’t even notice they split in the middle. Downside of being colour blind, but it highlights the fact that’s REALLY unclear to me and if that’s how you intend to indicate flagged projects thats a big problem for users with some form of colour deficiency (I’m your common Deutan ‘red/green’ deficiency)

It’s really hard to see the difference between the circles for me and that kind of thing is a massive turn-off as it instantly makes me feel you’re alienating a huge swathe of users :frowning:


…hmmm, maybe cranking up the saturation / contrast for the two colours would make them distinguishable…
another idea towards this is having upper half circles for flagged and lower half circles for due.

I’m sure it’s great for the 90% of people who aren’t colour blind. It’s a nightmare for those of us who are though.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be disrespectful in any kind of way, that was rather an estimation of whether Your goals will be met or not.
I think You are rightly pointing out an important perspective towards the new design that is needed here to evaluate the overall usability of OF2, the increase of which can only be in the interest of the Omni group- so please accept my apologies for maybe having appeared rude.


Oh no worries there Mat, no offence was taken. I’m just a little surprised that a company like Omni which is usually spot on with UI design would do something like that as it’s a pretty significant issue for many people.

You really can’t rely on subtle colour changes, i.e. yellow to orange to red etc. with nothing else to indicate the change or millions of colour blind users will be effectively crippled from using the software.


Our intent is to use color as a supplementary indicator, not an exclusive one.

The status circle does change color when something needs attention, but even without scanning for color in those circles OmniFocus is designed to make it easy to get a list of all your Flagged tasks, or to see which things are coming due today.

If you feel there’s something that needs clearer primary indicators outside of the status circle, please let us know!

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Hey @kcase . It’s not the circles per-se that are the issue, just the colours. To someone like myself with typical red-green colour blindness the split colours are very indistinct. All I think you need to do is either have a alternate colour set, or allow the user to set them. Having green/red next to each other with no other indication is a real no-no for CB users.

Couple of resources that people might find useful:

The bit under ‘colour contrasts’ here is a good example of the issue:

This isn’t obvious to someone who doesn’t see red and green as separate colors, but we don’t actually use green in those status circles (specifically for that reason).

RiK, can you elaborate a little about your particular form of color-blindness? My reading indicates that “red-green color blindness” is a bit of a misnomer, because it implies that the chief difficulty is in distinguishing red from green.

Rather, a lack of sensitivity to green wavelengths makes distinguishing all colors containing green light more difficult. And that because of the way that our brains process color, this means that distinguishing yellow from red is often problematic for people with “red-green” colorblindness.

Does this mesh with your experience?

I’m not colour blind in any way, but I still struggle to tell what colours are on show. Is it Orange/ Yellow Red/Orange Red/Yellow, what does it mean? its not very intuitive and more confusing than anything. I just want to glance at my task list and not have to get wrapped up in trying to remember what the various colour combinations mean.

Could we not just have a Flag appear for flagged items so its more obvious, or perhaps if you want to stick with only using the circle then why not colour it in completely for a flagged item and leave white in the middle for unflagged items.

I’m not entirely sure why they call it red-green colour blindness, but the crux of it to me personally seems to mainly be a lack of sensitivity in the red part. For example, blue and purple often look identical to me, and it’s near impossible to tell the difference between shades of brown. If you put something green next to something red or brown they would often look the same and I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. For example, when I look at this forum header, it took me several seconds, plus zooming my browser to tell the colour of the ‘latest’ box was red. Initially I wasn’t sure if it was red or green, but once I’ve seen it it’s clearer.

This probably sounds crazy to the 95% of people with normal colour vision, but for those who don’t it’s really stressful and for an application which forms such an important part of my workflow it’s really tough as it’s making me struggle to discern what it means and that just makes it more stressful than helpful!

For most people it’s not that we can’t see colours at all, but they are much less distinct. So, I can see the split circle for flagged/due but only when I really concentrate on it If I’m quickly scanning down the list in normal use the circles really just look ‘light grey’ or ‘darker’.

For what it’s worth, I’ve never really had this issue with any other software, but these particular colours on the light background are really problematic.

I’m fully aware that for most people this isn’t an issue at all and the colours used are fine, hence my only suggestion would be a simple flag for an alternate colour set. As an example, the video game ‘Call of Duty’ defaults to red/green markers to indicate opposing teams, but has an alternate colour set for CB players which changes to blue/yellow which solves the issue instantly.

I’ll say, as someone with ostensibly normal color vision, I also have trouble differentiating these status circles, and would prefer they are more obvious.

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As mentioned in my post above and also by alan​shutko, we are also struggling with the same thing and we both have normal vision, so it must be a nightmare for those who have issues with colour blindness.

yep, I’m color blind also and have the same issue to include using iPhone. I have learned to basically ignore the colors so I don’t really get the benefit of that feature which would actually be something I would like to be able to use. This would be overcome by having the ability to change settings to use a letter or number code (say, maybe in the center of the circle) to indicate the same thing each color does.

color blindness seems to be a handicap that is largely ignored all around.

I just wanted to chime in briefly here as both a dev at Omni and a Deutan color blind person. My intent is not to suggest that there is not a problem or speak to how we may rectify it, but just to reassure anyone who feels their accessibility issue is being ignored that, at least time, it’s not the case.

As we all know, every visual deficiency comes in a spectrum. I looked at this interface some time ago and for me, it was fine. While I can’t rely on the color of the circle-halves to the same degree a normally sighted person might, when I scan down the list it’s immediately apparent to me that both halves of the circle are colored. However I must admit upon reflection that it is difficult to tell the difference in a rapid scan what combination of flagged and/or overdue a task may have based on the circle alone. For my use, this is not important. If it’s overdue, I can immediately tell that because of the attention-getting “Due yesterday” text. The fact that the desaturated red text background might as well be grey for me is also not relevant. I don’t care that it may also be flagged, but I recognize that some may.

So basically I apologize to my brothers (and a few sisters) in color blindness for not perceiving this as an issue earlier. Sometimes due diligence does fall short, but our efforts are in good faith.


I find it interesting that one of the staff is working on this is color blind, and this issue was still ignored because the differentiation between the type of circles was not important to that user.

Just FYI, there are many non-colorblind users who have no idea how to differentiate which are flagged and which are not. I realize some people don’t care about flags, but used to use them in OF1.

Flags, in OF2, due to the lack of color differentiation between orange/red, etc. are not useful except to create a separate flagged list. I think the whole flag issue need to be rethought, and I definitely think some changes in the colors should be a user option (how hard could that possibly be???)

I agree, I’m finding whole circle thing (on the ios app as well as mac) confusing and ‘disjointed’. In some ways it is doing too much, in others it doesn’t go far enough.

On the too much side

I think the circle is trying to do too much… a repeating task or not, (over) due or not. Completed or not, flagged or not… The colours chosen and the hemispherical split don’t work for me. If the colours were user configurable that would be an improvement, but still not ideal. Perhaps also changing the shape of the hemispherical split so we have a square top and circular bottom (or visa versa) when things are flagged or overdue.

Flagging is a key issue for me. At a glance I would like to see a significant physical difference (something there or not there rather than a change of colour) for a flagged item. Perhaps if repeating was shown differently a flag could go in the centre. Perhaps a flag could go in the middle anyway with the ‘repeat’ icon included or (if we stick with the circle) the ‘repeat’ dots are on the outside e.g. O…

For the mac app, when something goes due or overdue we get the shading of the due date (orange or red) that provides enough for me and if I had the ability to change the colours of the circle I would set it up so the circle didn’t change colour at all unless it was flagged.

On the not far enough side

I feel that there isn’t enough differentiation between ‘available’ and ‘not available yet’ the grey colour stays the same. I would have an outline for ‘not available yet’ and shaded for ‘available’

I noticed something, the colors seem more or less distinct based on the angle of my MBA screen.

In the latest build, we’ve addressed this by adding a separate flag indicator just outside the status circle:

So at this point, the color of the status circle should be fully redundant with the other (primary) indicators of status.

Hi Ken,

I missed this and started another post. But here is my take on it:

The colorblind issue actually isn’t true if you also vary the saturation levels between colors (the current best practice for color blind accessibility). Add a different gradient per color, and you have two non-hue cues. Both would solve the problem without causing all that visual noise with the flag. If you are wedded to the flag, you should go back to the old design of discreet check boxes and flags.