Dear web designers…

There is something that a good percentage of you still insist on doing, and whether you know it or not you ARE driving away visitors and potential customers as you are actually causing them physical pain in your web design.

I’m talking about the dreaded white text/dark background.

I used to think it was just me, that I was the only one who would get such severe eyestrain after looking at a site with light text on a dark background that I didn’t say anything. However over the years I have seen enough other people complain of the same issues with these types of sites that I’m lead to believe that it’s more common than thought.

Here are a few things to think of when you wonder why this color scheme might not be the best choice.

  • Probably 75% of the time, if I see white on black (as opposed to black on white) I’m backing out of the webpage… Immediately, without reading a single word. I know once I get started I am introducing the possibility for pain.
  • If I DO stay (you better have some compelling content to make it this far) the next thing I do is look at the font size. Most of the time you have failed me as a user on multiple levels by not only doing the dreaded white on black… but by using microscopic font as well. Text zoom to the rescue if I want to stick around after a paragraph or so.
  • Zebra stripes. Depending on how dark the background is (ex: true black vs. slate gray) I’ve got anywhere from one to ten minutes before my field of vision is nothing more than zebra stripes. At this point if I continue reading on your site my eyes actually start to HURT from the strain. It does not matter if I zoom the text more or not. I have to stop. Which leads me to…
  • Super long content. Stop. Just Stop. I’m already having a hard enough time just READING on your site, so don’t give me a novel. Get to your point quickly.

Now I know that some people have issues with white on black, and I understand that everybody’s eyes work differently. Ultimately it’s YOUR site, and you’ll design it how you like. But do consider the fact that there is a sizable portion of the net who just can’t read light on dark schemed sites.

end rant

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