Web Creatives like Black. There is no denying it. Every where i have worked where a graphic designer has had involvement in the creative process of a website, black has always been an early option. Nearly any text you throw on this magical colour will have bad readability in comparison to a dark-on-light approach, and yet designers keep plugging away… Maybe its got something to do with the tools they are creating these designs with; The Apple iMac.
When contemporary art was taking shape, and Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he had a certain perspective that a lot of modern digital designers today lack. Michelangelo viewed his art through the same device as his admirers and employers did: His eyes. This cannot be said for the digital designer of today.
Apple has had a massive part to play in this difference in viewpoint. While the rest of the world spent the last 15 years happily using a PC for their everyday computer based entertainment, Apple has been quite busy quietly subsidizing design schools. This has made the average designer’s tool of choice today an iMac. So much so that they are considered the industry standard platform in digital design (and have been for many years).
Get to the point
I believe there is a large disconnect between web users and digital designers, and that the reason for this designer-user disconnect is quite simple. A modern day iMac has a beautiful, LED backlit, glass covered screen.
Ask anyone who has more than a passive interest in home theatre and they will tell you; nothing makes black more sexy on-screen, like half an inch of glass. The iMac is no different. The glossy finish that the glass on an iMac screen brings to the table brings out a depth to the colour black that can only truly be appreciated with the help of a screen that posses this display super-power.
The small army of design followers that Apple has amassed in the design community through giving them an early taste for piloting their flagship product, have acquired a perception of the colour black in a totally different light to the majority web users.
While a digital designer turns out what they think is a sexy piano finish, artistic looking website, the rest of the web’s users are left squinting to read anything on the midnight grey website they’ve just stumbled across.
You can’t be serious!?
Am i being melodramatic? Is this a back-end coder simply venting his rage while at the same time showing his complete lack of artistic taste? I think not. Is this very blog the most easy to read colour scheme, maybe not… However, a survey showed that 47% of web users prefer the backgrounds of the sites they read to always be light. This means that if you are creating a website to be viewed by the general public, by choosing a dark background, specifically black, you are ignoring half your audience straight away.
So what is the answer?
Don’t design a website with a dark colour scheme. Especially Black.
Of course there will always be cases where this doesn’t matter so much, such as websites that are displaying art or photos, where the designers are attempting to make the rest of the website disappear so that the object on display stands out, but these aren’t the majority of websites, and they aren’t websites that users read from.
So join me in the revolution and spread the word;
Do the right thing when designing your next website: avoid the iMac effect