Popular design guides are responsible for plague of grey type


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/19/popular-design-guides-are-resp.html

The strawberries in this photo are blue

Whoever thought gray on gray text will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. It’s like they don’t actually want anyone to read the text.


I was wondering what was going on there. Perhaps being able to read the words on a page is somehow jarring to graduates of hoity-toity design schools.


While we’re at it, can we track down and kill the web designers who think that all option menus should be completely hidden unless and until one hovers one’s mouse over the correct pixel on the page?


Notably, it depends what you mean by “black.”

For example…


None of those need to be anything other than #000000. Except the “Follow” button. Since that’s the only link.


My wife once had a very short stint as an art supplies salesperson. It ended about the time that she was trying to sell black pens to an artist.
“Do you have any black pens?”
“Yes, here they are.”
(scribbles with one of the black pens) “That’s not black!”

That artist needs to get a job in web design. He’ll learn that those pens were blacker than black.


Being a person in my 40s I also use an extension to fix this problem.

Also I’m looking at you Daring Fireball.


But is is blacker than the blackest black times infinity?


How readable do you find them?


It was a ship of classic, simple design, like a flattened salmon, twenty yards long, very clean, very sleek. There was just one remarkable thing about it.

“It’s so … black!” said Ford Prefect, “you can hardly make out its shape … light just seems to fall into it!”

Zaphod said nothing. He had simply fallen in love.

The blackness of it was so extreme that it was almost impossible to tell how close you were standing to it.

“Your eyes just slide off it …” said Ford in wonder. It was an emotional moment. He bit his lip.


Would it have helped if they used brushed aluminum?


Must’ve been painted with Vantablack.


Right after we line up the people who design “mobile sites”/frameworks.


Irony’s a bitch.


It’s great to see an article here about this problem, one which annoyed me enough that I wrote a Chrome extension to address it. Please check out Legibility. It automatically adjusts text contrast and font size into the ranges you specify.



Yeah, but that is secondary information and more forgivable.

Main body text should be black. #333333 is usually ok too.

But designers have a long, rich history failing to balance artsy design with functional design.


Is this a common problem? I often make videos for my students, I used to always do them black-on-white but have recently switched to white on black, and the students say they prefer them. Example:

Back in the old days, where screen and text color was a function of hardware, there were regular arguments between which was preferable ergonometrically: green-on-black, amber-on-black, or white-on-black. Black-on-white was rarely mentioned as an option.


Back in my basic days, I liked white on blue.


I spent some years trying to tell my boss, who uses powerpoint templates that have dark grey text… That he has somehow managed to produce slides where some of the lines are grey while others are black.

On my monitor, it’s obvious. On his, undetectable. SIGH. I even looked up the RGB values and labeled them on some slides I reviewed…