Selection of Colors for On-Line Docs (was Re: RED and GREEN etc)

Subject: Selection of Colors for On-Line Docs (was Re: RED and GREEN etc)
From: scot <scot -at- HCI -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996 17:48:02 +1000

>Thank you, Scot, for your thoughts re the Chinese view of red. I work with many
>people of Chinese ancestry (one of the 'big three" ethnicities over here), and
>have taught Chinese students from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong ... and
>none of them ever mentioned considering red to be good luck. But then, I

Maybe you never asked. Perhaps they are already acclimmatised to the Western
standard view of Red. Perhaps this view has even permeated China in recent
times. However, it is the reason Brides in China traditionally wear Red, or
for the Red lanterns in "Raise the Red Lantern" (the wife who gets the
latern is lucky for the husband's attention, it is used in a very obvious
symbolic way).

>usually used blue when correcting papers--wonder what their view of *blue* is?

I have heard the Japanese regard Blue as something to do with scatology
<ahem>. In a hospital, BLUE often means DEATH, so watch out. ;-)

>To get this back to a Tech writer's topic: Selection of screen colors for
>online documentation. Regardless of delivery format (HTML browser, Envoy,
>Acrobat, word-processing document), what do you think are:
>(1) Readable, attractive color schemes
> I ask this because, while I like black text on off-white backgrounds, we
>have people using dark blue on black, purple on pink, orange on black or green
>on black (nostalgic for their old mainframe terminals ;^>) etc, etc.

I always prefer black (or dark blue) on white. I think its easier on the
eyes. Horton (I think) prefers this option. The white background is more
like the familiar ink-on-paper and it also somewhat reduces screen glare.
The more contrast the better, certainly purple on pink and dark blue on
black sound to me like appalling choices both for aesthetics and readability.

>(2) The good and bad points of letting users select their own colors, e.g.,
>when using an HTML browser?
> While nominally any browser lets the user change colors, fonts, etc., I
>would think that if you made the browser's configuration file read-only, you
>could prevent the change. (Guess I'll have to try that with Netscape tonight.)

You can program the colours into the HTML anyway, so you can enforce the
colour selection for your documents, but the user can also elect to -always-
use their own colour choices, and not the documents, but I've not ever found
anyone who uses this option (yet).

ciao, scot.
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