Re: Watermark

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
>background image.

>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): (current column) (list of past columns)

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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