I'm working on a website that does some task management, presenting assigned tasks in order of urgency. Currently there are seven levels of urgency. I'm looking for a color palette that is soft (almost pastel) going from red to green for these priorities (red being the most urgent, green being the lowest). Some similar to what is seen here: http://www.jnathanson.com/blog/client/jquery/heatcolor/index.cfm.
I want to stress soft and muted, rather than boldly red. Maybe even verging on pinkish. I want it to be understandable at a glance, but not difficult to read (black, normal weight text) or an eyesore. Current colors on the site are muted yellow and a blue (see the Redmond theme here: http://jqueryui.com/themeroller/).
Any suggestions on what colors to use? I'm TERRIBLE with color choices! I'm also not worried about web-safe colors or not -- just a nice set of colors to use.
I have seen some really bad systems (the defaults in mantis bugtracker, for example).
I would say, pick some initial colours, do a mockup of a system page, and get feedback from the people who will be using the system. If the team is of any size, chances are you will have someone who is red-green colourblind. Therefore it is helpful to vary the intensity well as the hue: Have your red for most urgent quite bright, and your green for lowest priority very pale. In between you will have shades of lime, yellow and orange. Does the system achieve the coloration via a class? If so, you could make the text white if necessary for your urgent red. Also, clued up users could apply a user stylesheet to the page if your choices don't work for them.
If your system is very linear, you want a clear progression through the spectrum, so people can tell the relative urgency of any two colours.
If the system displays completed tasks, make them grey rather than some colour, so they stand out less. (It's that old problem , where if you mail client flags mail marked as low priority, it stands out more than mail with no priority flag).