Play a game and learn Color Theory

with Pasan Julsaksrisakul, Naixin Zhang


For one of our Spring courses, Design of Educational Game, we as a team of 3 created this iOS game which enables people to learn and practice color theory. It is a puzzle game with different levels, and the players solve the puzzles by coloring the background image with the right color scheme. We named this game Holi, which is known as the festival of colors or the festival of love.


Almost everyone has ever experienced struggles about color. "Which color of shoes goes well with this shirt?" "Why are my slides always so ugly?" Being able to use color appropriately is such an important skill, yet most people are not confident about it. Plus, color could be fun to play with. Remember the childhood color books that we spent days and nights on? With both unsolved user needs and potential opportunities, we decided to create this iOS educational game for color theory, and our target users include:


While non-educational product development starts with identifying user needs, when we started creating this educational game, we also started from user needs, but with special methods that dive into the very core of the learning goals and people's cognitive process to achieve these goals.

Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA)

We started with doing Cognitive Task Analysis with three users - one expert and two novices. We presented them with a list of tasks that we hope our users would be able to accomplish after using our game. They were told to solve the tasks while thinking aloud.

An example of the task

This helps us identify people's cognitive model and difficult factors in learning color theory. In particular, CTA with experts helps defining the cognitive model (a if-then decision tree or concept map) to solve the problem and specifying the educational objectives, while CTA with novice helps to locate difficult points in the cognitive models and the educational objectives.

Cognitive Model - Concept Map

In general, we found that there are no overarching standards on color theory. Like most other design activities, both experts and novices would do a design task iteratively through trial and error. However, experts could finish a task much faster and better.