White Text on a Dark Background

White Text, Dark Background: Lose Half Your Website Visitors

One of the most common design mistakes we come across is where a website has the bulk of it’s page content in White text with a dark-coloured background.

Here at Avara, we are passionate about website usability because let’s face it, the more accessible your website content is, the more people will read it, share it and act upon it. So it’s basic common sense that you make your content as easy to read as possible, right?

However, it your website displays most of the body content in White text on a dark background like the example text below, you’re probably losing half your visitors before they read a single word of your content.

Here is some White text on a Black background. Whilst the use of this colour-scheme is acceptable for navigation and other display elements such as titles and headers on your website, you should never use if for the body of your website content like this example. Continue reading to find out why.

The Reality of Website Usability

It’s unfortunate that too many Website Designers (and indeed Clients) are very narrow-minded when it comes to creating a truly usable website. They tend to apply their own preferences with little or no thought to those who are actually going to use the website. Whilst a Designer might think White text on a Black background “looks cool”, they are actually undermining the commercial scope of the website.

If you think about it, how many major websites can you think of that present their main page content in White text on a dark background? We’re pretty sure you’ve visited at least one of these websites in the last week and most of them spend huge amounts of money to ensure their sites are as usable by as many people as possible.

  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Twitter
  • BBC News
  • The Daily Mail
  • Apple
  • Linkedin
  • The Telegraph
  • Rightmove
  • PayPal

So how many of these websites display the body of their content in White text on a dark background? We’re pretty sure you already know – none of them. If the businesses behind these websites, some of which employ the world’s leading experts on usability, don’t think it’s a great idea to use White text then surely that tells you something?

The Problem With White Text on a Dark Background

So we know that no major websites use White text on a dark background but could it just be down to the Designers preference rather than for any other good reason? Well, the reason why they don’t is because around half the population have a real issue reading White text on a dark background.

And this is not a subjective view as it’s backed-up with scientific evidence – read this quote from Dr James Harrison of The Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group at the University of British Columbia…

“People with astigmatism (approximately 50% of the population) find it harder to read white text on black than black text on white. Part of this has to do with light levels: with a bright display (white background) the iris closes a bit more, decreasing the effect of the “deformed” lens; with a dark display (black background) the iris opens to receive more light and the deformation of the lens creates a much fuzzier focus at the eye.”

The “fuzzing” effect that Dr Harrison refers to is known as ‘halation’ and if you suffer from it, you’ll know that trying to read anything other than a few lines of White text on dark background is both uncomfortable and irritating. The net result is if you come across a website that employs such a colour scheme, you’ll simply hit the ‘Back’ button rather than try to read the website content.

This is a Big Deal if You Want More Business

Imagine your Website Designer did something to your website that stopped half your visitors from reading the content – you’d be pretty annoyed wouldn’t you? And we think you’d probably sack them on the spot if they said it wasn’t a problem and it was done to enhance their “creative flair”.

Well, if you have a website that uses White text then that’s exactly what you’re allowing to happen.

Even if this doesn’t affect half your website visitors and it’s ‘only’ 40%, or 30% or even just 10% – surely that’s still too many potential customers and too much actual money to lose for the sake of a simple change to your website?

If you’ve got a website that suffers from this cardinal design sin and you’d like some help fixing it, you can call us on 01252 416 222 or use our contact form.

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