In Medias Res


A simply reply to a mundane problem over on Cyrus' blog turned into a broader opinion piece, and so my entry to the blogosphere begins not with "hello" but with topical poll...


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On color schemes and usability


I got to puzzle over this question quite a bit while Ars was being redesigned.  After talking to several non-geeks and spending countless hours of proto-geek "research" in front of assorted displays, here is what I decided:


CRT in a dark room - black background is enormously less straining
CRT with good general ergonomics - black background slightly prefered, notably by those who've adopted trendy black hardware
LCD in a dark room - ambivalent; at night with less-than-stellar equipment, all that black backgrounds gain you is the reinforced notion that LCD black levels suck
LCD under good conditions - white background preferred
Metasemantic consideration - black is perceived to be less formal


Of course, Ars adopted the non-solution of a user toggle -- thus, the shift to a white-background default caused comparatively few ripples (which, predictably, died out after about 10 days).  I, alas, haven't nearly the CSS-fu to implement such a thing.  So, photon consumers of the world: do you agree with those generalizations or not? 


yes, it was absolutely necessary to use the word "metasemantic" in my first public reply to Cyrus; ditto the dose of rhyming dactyls when introducing a mock-epic


Comments (3)
  1. richardb says:

    Just as full disclosure, I’m going to stick with light backgrounds regardless of what people say 🙂 Justification of the hour: even though I’m on a CRT at the moment, the last thing I need is an incentive to regularly stay at the office this late

  2. Dean Harding says:

    Definately agree on the "black is perceived to be less formal" note. I like white on black myself, as you can see on my blog, but it has a sort of reputation for being a bit "unprofessional"…

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