Color Coding: why does pink mean both "Kanji" and "Apprentice"?

I find the color coding a touch confusing. The same colors seem to indicate completely unrelated things. Pink is used to identify both “Kanji” and “Apprentice.” I take it there’s no implied relation here? Light blue means both “Radical” and “Enlightened”; purple means both “Vocabulary” and “Guru.”

Unless there is in fact some relation that I’m missing, maybe it would make sense to choose three completely different colors to identify stages of achievement? (Maybe three shades of increasingly dark grey, culminating in black for “Burned.”)


Just my two cents, but colours on websites are difficult when you factor in things like different screen types, dark mode scripts, etc. Keeping a limited colour palette makes things easier and so as opposed to having green for kanji, for example, they’ve kept to pink through the purple spectrum.

You’ve only got four easily delineated colours within that range; pink, purple, dark blue, light blue.

This keeps the site style and branding consistent across everything. You’ll notice that pink and blue are the colours of the WaniKani logo, for example.

I also moved this to WaniKani > Feedback, I hope you don’t mind, since this isn’t related to the API


It’s pretty easy to code six colors that can’t be confused with each other, no matter how they’re displayed on screen – as I say, three of them could be shades of grey. The limited color palette here does the opposite of making things easy: it guarantees confusion. The whole point of color-coding is to to establish categories. So identifying two unrelated categories with the same color defeats the purpose.

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Using shades of grey is, in my opinion, neither attractive, nor informative. That’s just my personal opinion on web design aesthetics though.

I’m curious what actual confusion you’re getting here, since that shade of pink is used for two entirely separate things and in different areas of the website. It doesn’t bother me in any way that the pink of Apprentice at the bottom of the page matches the pink of the kanji icons any more than it bothers me that the blue of Enlightened is the same as the blue of the radical items. The only place you see both together is on your dashboard where they’re in separate areas of the display.

If it really bothers you though, you might consider using the Dark Breeze theme, which makes everything different colours.


I agree that it might be a tad confusing, though in reviews and lessons, they will always bear the meaning of radical, kanji and vocab, no exception. The only place you’ll see the colours associated with level is on your dashboard.


Grey might not be attractive, maybe — although it could be done in a way that it is. (I’ve done a lot of design work.) If that’s a concern, there are a thousand other options.

What’s crucial is that aesthetics are secondary here: this is about information. And the more I think about it, you’re looking at pretty much the most serious error you can make in infographics: strongly implying a relationship/identity that simply does not exist.

This page — arguably the most important page on the site — is so confusing that I literally didn’t bother with it until Level 7, since it seemed to make no sense. When I finally did get around to examining it closely, I wondered whether I was missing something — hence this thread. And, as I say, I’m not visually illiterate. The site is for the most part graphically impeccable; this would be an easy fix.

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And don’t forget people with color blindness or color vision deficiency which is eliminating some possible color combinations as well.


Pink is also “Lessons” when you have them, and “Reviews” are blue when you have them, except when they’re in the top banner, in which case they are both purple.

(Less relevant but the lifetime badge is purple and the paid badge is blue.)

My opinion is that Wanikani is working off a limited color scheme, for the purposes of aesthetic, and @Joeni stated, which I personally think is very important to website design. I don’t really see how it makes the homepage confusing at all though? I’ve never thought about the color connection before now.


Yes. Color blindness can be a real problem. I’m pretty severely colorblind and I didn’t even realize the colors had any significance until about level five. It was a revelation when someone pointed out the difference, because it finally explained why some of my “right” answers were wrong. Now, I’m used to it, so the color doesn’t usually consciously register.

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I was more bewildered by this post than I ever was by WaniKani’s color selections. :sweat_smile:

It never occurred to me that the presentation was confusing since the distinction between SRS stages and learning material was visually obvious from the dashboard’s layout. That said, I don’t think the site would suffer from a change if this is a source of confusion for others.


You’ll find that thanks to scripts, you can customise wk however you want as joeni already said. I didn’t even realise they used the same colour until this post. I think you’re perhaps a minority. Once you know the colour scheme it’s relatively easy.


What would you prefer the homepage layout to be? Assuming the colors can’t be changed due to palette reasons and you don’t want to/can’t install any scripts, is there a way to present the information in a way that would be more beneficial to you? Not being antagonistic here, I swear - I’m always very curious about layout preferences as I have to make a lot of teaching materials and I like to be aware of different ways of interpreting information between individuals.


Out of curiosity if I may ask: what colors do you see for the different stages/right-wrong-answer?

I just realized while writing my comment that the colors for right and wrong answers in green in red might be pretty intuitive in that regard but as red/green-deficiency is, I think at least, among the most common, it probably would be helpful if you could customize the colors.

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What relationship could there be? All kanji are pink, but they obviously move through all the stages.

Your question is an interesting one, and I remember thinking about it at the time I became aware of the color difference. What colors I see are highly subjective – colorblind people don’t know what they’re missing until someone points it out to them (as in, “wait, you’re saying my shirt is PINK??”).

Like most colorblind people, my deficit is red-green, but “blindness” isn’t really an accurate term, it’s better to think of it as a deficit in color differentiation. I can see any color (as far as I am aware), if it is big enough. I can differentiate between the WK colors on my big computer screen if I pay attention to them; it would be more difficult if I used my phone, but I don’t do that anyway.

I believe what happened, in my case, is that because I don’t trust in my ability to see colors, over time my brain assigns less weight to their importance. It simply hadn’t occurred to me that the background color meant anything until I happened to read it in a forum discussion. So, in answer to your question, I’m not sure if customizing the colors would make that much difference. Hope that makes sense.


Thanks for the interesting insight.

Especially this part as I think colors are quite often used in daily life for sending associations or subconcious messages e.g. in movies as some form of short-hand. So part of the message would just be omitted; I’m wondering wether you could compare that to loosing the tone of voice in written conversation.

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Pretty sure they are both \definecolor{kanji}{rgb}{1, 0, 0.66}\color{kanji}\small\textsf{#FF00AA}?


Kumirei has it: If you do a color check with PS, you’ll see that they’re exactly the same.

Aren’t the colored boxes themselves all gradient, though? Darker in the top-left corner and lighter in the bottom-right.

Sure, but the same holds for the kanji elements