W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > site-comments@w3.org > October 2012

Re: Thanks & Background

From: Dan B. <danb@kempt.net>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2012 13:31:31 -0400
Message-ID: <50916073.8030102@kempt.net>
To: Duce Clark <ducemailbox@gmail.com>
CC: site-comments@w3.org

Duce Clark wrote:
> ...
> ... The white background is tough on
 > the eyes after a few hours. There are clarity reasons for this color
 > scheme and I agree that contrast is important with text, but straight
 > white is harsh over long periods of time. As of now I back my monitors
 > brightness settings down specifically for W3C.

Note that that's not because the W3C uses a white background--you're
doing that because of all the follow-the-latest-trend, form-over-
function web designers that decrease the contrast of the text in their
web pages (sometimes by ridiculous amounts).

They're apparently ignorant of how human visual perception works to
know that small things (e.g., regular text) need higher contrast to
be readable than do large things (e.g., logos and heading-sized text,
which can be of low contrast and still be readable).

(Or they're too unaware to think that if black on white, or even
off-black on off-white, looks too "contrasty" to them, they should
adjust their own monitors, not reduce the contrast for every reader
of the page else.)

Is black text on a white background in, say, Microsoft Word (or your
favorite word processor) or a PDF document too contrasty to you?  How
about black text on a white background in your usual file manager (e.g.,
Windows Explorer).

If yes:  Then adjust the brightness and/or contrast on your monitor
(as you have) to your preference (for local file and word processing
work and for competently-designed pages, e.g., W3C specifications),
and (theoretically*) tell all those idiot web designers to quit
turning down the contrast.  Users can always turn down the contrast
via their monitors, but they can't turn it up much.

(*Yes, I know you can't really reach them, but if every one of us
web page readers could point one or two of those bad web page designers
to http://contrastrebellion.com or some equivalent, then ... well ...
one can dream, can't one?)

If not, then:  What's different (to you) between black-on-white
non-web-page text vs. black-on-white web-page-text?  Do you not read
long PDF, Word, etc. documents as much as you do long HTML documents?
Or is it something else?

> Its my opinion that a muted color for background and black text is the best
>  for avoiding eye strain

Actually, it's the _muted_ colors on low-contrast web page that causes
_me_ eyestrain most of the time.

 > (which is bad for any design IMHO). For a site that
 > requires large amounts of reading (such as W3C) this becomes an issue far
 > more quickly.

Try reading some long article page where the web designer has thrown
away half (or more!) of the available contrast (e.g., 50% gray text on
white) and shrunk the text (from your chosen default).  Then notice
how clear the text in a W3C specification page appears.

Or maybe I should suggest that in the opposite order:  Pull up a
typical black-on-white, default-font-size W3C specification.  Adjust
your monitor per your contrast preferences.  Then go to some
low-contrast site and notice how hard it is to read.

 > ...

Note that you and I don't necessarily disagree on our preferred
light/contrast levels coming from our monitors:  I'm just identifying
that the origin of your and my inconvenience is the web sites/designers
that mess with style settings that should be left to users, rather
than with the W3C and other competently designed sites.

Received on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 17:32:05 UTC

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