I spend a lot of time on Google Docs everyday. One thing that I stumble upon a lot is that when I am I on the color-editing panel, I constantly hesitate and spend time thinking about if I am on the text color mode or the highlight mode. A lot of times, I still did the opposite things after serious thinking.
E.g., I ended up turning texts into something like
I started to wonder if this happen to other users too. I tested with several friends with this picture, but they seem to respond ok with this indicating that they are on the text editing mode. ( <-- maybe I should conduct better user-testing here, by observation, not through a survey).
So here is the current view:
Below is a quick prototype from me:
Also, how about INSTANT FEEDBACK ? Something like, as the mouse hovers over the color palette, maybe the screen could show the change?