RE: Readability - CD/web site

Subject: RE: Readability - CD/web site
From: "Kathy Bowman" <Kathy -dot- Bowman -at- saabsystems -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "Nelson, Julie " <JOHNST -at- acehardware -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 3 May 2006 17:03:56 +0930

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."

Hi Julie,
Where the text is very large, white on a black background is not too bad
provided it is used for headlines or labels. But as soon as I have to
read more than a few words of white text on a dark background, I find it
hard going and uncomfortable. Pages that use this can look quite good
from a distance, but are not easy to read.

Beware graphic designers who put 'artistic' considerations above
readability. National Geographic magazine went through a stage of
presenting some of their articles with callouts and headings that
wrapped over pages, and used backgrounds, font faces and colours that
made reading the articles really hard work. I nearly cancelled my
subscription, but they returned to sanity after a couple of issues.

Your first layout sounds the better option by far.


Kath Bowman


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