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Have Yourself a Very Purple 2018

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    David Rhodes

The news is out: ‘Ultra Violet’ is the official color for 2018 according to the color experts at the Pantone Color Institute. Long fascinated with the psychology of color, this year I decided to dig deeper into the thinking that goes into Pantone’s annual proclamation, and provide a few easy ways I’ve found for software engineers — and end users — to punch up the purple in their palettes.

So why Ultra Violet? Here are some fascinating descriptors, some paraphrased, from Pantone about the power of purple:

  • originality
  • ingenuity
  • visionary thinking
  • complex and contemplative
  • the mysteries of the cosmos
  • the vast and limitless night sky
  • enigmatic
  • artistic brilliance
  • rockstar androgyny (think Bowie, Prince, Hendrix)
  • mystical/spiritual quality
  • mindfulness
  • connection

And who doesn’t want more of at least one of these in 2018? So if your New Year’s resolutions involve exploring the great cosmic mysteries, releasing your inner rock star, or instilling artistic brilliance, here are a few tools I’ve found that may help you select and coordinate colors for your next accent wall, navbar menu, or pair of socks:

Pantone’s Tools for Designers

To tap the exact color, Pantone provides an excellent designer’s resource , with all the required Ultra Violet codes, including this graphic where I found the Hex code for CSS, #5F4B8B:

Pantone Ultra Violet Cheat Sheet

Sip for Mac

For front-end engineers, Sip for Mac is a very inexpensive but powerful app (free trial then $9.99 one time purchase): Snag and save colors, then generate palettes, with a simple but persistent UI that integrates automagically with another favorite UI app, Sketch: Just click on a color to copy its Hex code to paste into your CSS or styled components.


Paletton's palette dashboard in monochromatic mode

A free web app that inspires palette selection based on a basic color or set of complementary colors on a color wheel. Similar to Sip, just click on a color swatch to copy its code. While not persistent UI, it’s free, and easy to place in your browser bookmarks or send as a link.

Swatch for IOS

purple screen in the Swatch app

Swatch is an easy-to-use IOS app for anyone curating a brand, or personal, palette. Using your phone's camera, scan and select a color for saving and palette generation, then Swatch provides the Benjamin Moore color, Pantone, Hex and RGB values. Of course you can send swatches by email, airdrop, text message, or favorite notes app.

Invision's Free UI Kits

Invision's UI Kits come in many palettes, and are a real boost to any prototype.

InVision has worked hard to provide a stunning array of free mobile UI kits, one of which I recognized immediately from an app I did some back-end work for. Check out their DO Kit for several excellent choices that incorporate the power of purple, then drop them into Sketch, Photoshop, or InVision for customization and prototyping in your next mobile app.