Can You See Me Now? A Case Against Low-Contrast Websites

A low-contrast image of a snowflake on snow.

© Michal Bednarek | Dreamstime.com – A low-contrast image of a snowflake on snow.

In this past year, I’ve come up with my number one pet peeve. I’ve always had a number of pet peeves, but I usually deal with them with some aplomb and grace. But this one thing comes back and smacks me in the face every week, at least, and just about sends me over the edge of insanity.

LOW-CONTRAST WEBSITES.

Now, let me say it louder for those who suffer like I do:

LOW-CONTRAST WEBSITES!

Maybe it’s just because I’m about to celebrate a big birthday. Maybe it’s because of my glaucoma. Whatever it is, I can’t see stuff as well as I used to be able to. A lot of people are in the same boat. And when I land on a site where there is light gray text on a white background, well, let’s just say that it’s not a happy time here in the office.

Graphic thanks to http://www.contrastrebellion.com

Graphic thanks to http://www.contrastrebellion.com

Eyesight aside, here are just a couple of reasons you shouldn’t press your designer for low contrast text:

  1. Website content is meant to be read. It may look pretty, but if the user can’t see it, or is straining their eyes in order to read it or is having trouble focusing on that content, they’re not going to keep reading it.
  2. Mobile use accounts for over half of web usage. When you’re making it even harder to read the text, you’re automatically pushing away over half of your visitors.

And, really, it’s not just me. The WC3‘s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines specifically talk about this in a number of sections. There is a great website called Contrast Rebellion, which succinctly summarizes the problems with low contrast websites. Share it with your friends!

If your website suffers from low-contrast-itis, too, give me a call and I will be happy to help.

Be nice. Be real. Be happy.