TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Watermark From:"Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 3 Oct 1996 14:44:29 -0700
At 04:22 PM 10/3/96 -0400, Elizabeth Huth wrote:
>Question: In redesigning our company web page, the issue of having a watermark
>or wallpaper in the background came up. I perfer not to have any. I find the
>text hard to read over the watermark no matter how faint. I also find it to make
>the page appear cluttered.
>Is there any research or studies out there to back up my perferences or to prove
>I'm in the minority?
I was poking around the other day and came upon the Sun Microsystems
_Guide to Web Style_. You can find it at
Unter the heading "Take care with background images" is this advice...
>If you must use background images, keep them very small (to minimize
>download time,) and use the lowest resolution JPEG format. If you're fond of
>creating your backgrounds on a computer with a high-color display, make sure
>you try living with them on an 8-bit tube. Text/ground combinations legible on a
>16- or 24-bit screen are sometimes unreadable on a 256-color system. Keep
>backgrounds pale and muted, to avoid interfering with text. Better yet, unless
>you're comfortable that the core audience for your site either has the bandwidth
>to load large images quickly, or doesn't mind waiting, consider not using a
>A valid rebuttal to this approach is the observation that backgrounds can
>provide a strong thematic design element for a page. Boldly colored
>backgrounds can support legible text, if the designer takes care to choose
>properly contrasting text and ground colors. Another option is to use a large
>background image, and place text over quieter areas in the image. Yet a third
>approach is to put the text in the background image, as in this example from
>ISS digital contractors. (current)
>There is no "right" answer to this debate, merely choices more or less
>appropriate for a given audience.
Hope this helps. The site has lots of good information.
Also, for Web usability articles by Jakob Nielsen (published monthly):