Re: Readability - CD/web site

Subject: Re: Readability - CD/web site
From: "Cassandra Greer" <cassandra -at- greer -dot- de>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 3 May 2006 09:05:29 +0200 (MEST)

May I add my own (anecdotal) two euro cents:

Oh the headaches I had in the days when I had to use monitors that were
green/white text on a black background! I need light (ask my husband -'Turn
on the lights, dang it!' and have even resorted to bringing a lamp when
working on site. Give me black text (at least 12 pt for my 1024x769 px
screen) on a white (or very light) background anyday! I prefer serif fonts
(e.g., palatino is my favorite :) but am not a stickler about it.

Cass the blind (who only stays on a dark site if she absolutely has to but
runs away as soon as possible)

> 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.

Cassandra Greer
Technical Translation and Documentation
Spilhofstr. 16
81927 München
+49 (089) 94004794
cassandra (at)
cassandragreer (at)

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Re: Readability - CD/web site: From: Peter Neilson

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