Re: Readability - CD/web site

Subject: Re: Readability - CD/web site
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: "Nelson, Julie " <JOHNST -at- acehardware -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 03 May 2006 02:43:46 -0400

I know the studies that I, myself, have done. Personally, I have
difficulty reading anything at all on a dark background. It
is somehow artistic, I imagine, to use black on dark brown, or
dark red on dark blue (or vice-versa). My studies reveal that
a dark background leads me into taking a particular set of actions:

1. If the website is unimportant, I look elsewhere, or and go brush
the horses, or darn socks, or do some other pleasant activity.

2. If it has truly necessary information, I try "select all" to
see if some sort of reversal improves legibility. If that
fails I try copying the text and pasting it into Emacs or
some other editor. Perhaps instead I try opening the website
with lynx; or maybe I edit the HTML source, correcting the
colors, and save it onto my own machine so I can try reading
it as it should have appeared.

I wonder what actions others may take. Do they curse sliently, or
maybe throw shoes? Do they involve anyone who'll listen in a
rant about lousy web design? Do they go and get drunk, or at
least go raid the candy machine?

Dark red on dark blue generates a peculiarly high level of eyestrain,
because the eye must try to focus on two wavelengths that differ by
nearly half an octave. Tiny type is harder than larger. The efceft cluod be made wsroe olny by jmulibg the lteters in all the wrdos.

The purpose of using the dark background eludes me. Perhaps the
webmaster desires power over the reader. Perhaps he has a fondness
for bathing-machines, which he constantly carries about, and
believes that the add to the beauty of scenes, a sentiment open
to doubt.

Nelson, Julie wrote:

My team is developing a marketing CD for our retail computer system.
We're in the initial stages of developing the layout for the main
navigation/home page. So far, we've developed 2 different layouts. One
has a white background, black text, navigation buttons with a red border
at the top, a few images & the very top of the page has the company &
computer system logos with a black background behind it. The other
layout has a black background, white text, the same company & computer
system logos with a black background & a few images. It might just be
my eyesight, but it's more challenging for me to read the white text on
a black background than black text on a white background (or maybe this
is just what my eyes are used to).
Do you know of any readability studies available on the web that
reference what background color/font color/font size & type is easiest
to read on a CD or web site. Our long term goal is to include a good
deal of this content on our intranet site, so it would be helpful if the
CD & web site had a similar layout. I'm researching this on Google, but
I thought I'd check here too. I'm guessing I could find something on
Jakob Nielsen's site.

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Readability - CD/web site: From: Nelson, Julie

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