Pattern recognition and why inverted color schemes suck
There's something about some people, that I never managed to quite get: their complete disregard for learning from patterns.
I'm not talking about spelling or grammar (those are complicated enough). I'm taking about extremely simple things, like punctuation or spacing, or color schemes.
People see, tens of times per day, efficient, nice, clean, "proper" usage of these things, but just. don't. learn.
People see proper usage of the ellipsis many times a day... Yet the same people use two dots.. or just plain overflow their stream of consciousness in an ocean of periods............ intended for sure to express their infinite stupor.
Probably the same individuals are also exposed to proper spacing around parentheses (not like this ) but it doesn't hurt their eyesight to see that spacing messed up in the most inconsistent manner ( not that it would be important, they say).
Finally, how many times a day do you read? What does the text look like? In 99 percent of cases, it's black on white. The vast majority of serious web sites, newspapers, books, labels etc. use dark text on a light background, and there are damn good reasons to do so (see readability of inverted color schemes, or try to read an entire white-on-black web page and come back to normal vision).
I might understand the Myspace teens who pimp up their "layouts" to an angry black background, but a famous site on - for crying out loud - photo camera reviews (where users spend hours hunting for cameras), to use an inverted color scheme, is beyond my comprehension. Yes, photos may be best viewed on a black background, but I'm talking about camera reviews and discussion forums, not about photo galleries. And flickr.com uses a white background.
Here's a letter I sent to dpreview.com:
I know this suggestion is a really tough one to swallow, but I'm going to make it anyway. After all, this is a site that talks so much about clarity of image, ease of use, and a site on which users spend countless hours hunting for the best camera, that it really deserves to have visual integrity as well.
PLEASE, for the love of ergonomics and of hundreds of thousands of eyes, PLEASE switch the color scheme from the difficult to read light-on-dark to the normal dark-on-light, or provide an alternative style.
I love dpreview, but I hate it that I have to either disable your stylesheet, or burn my retina each time I have to use it. I'm sure I'm not a singular example. You can read more about the readability of color schemes at http://www.joedolson.com/articles/2006/08/on-the-readability-of-inverted-color-schemes/.
PS: Did you notice how the lower contrast of the gray on black made it easier to read than the white-on-black? For the same reason, I've set my display's white level to a softer shade of gray. For a few months in a row, I wrote text in Microsoft Word, which by default has a bright white background. By the end of day one, my eyes were hurting. After I set the background (via Windows Control Panel) to a soft shade of gray, I could work for 12+ hours every day wihtout any issues whatsoever. I've been working with computers for 18 years now, and still don't need glasses.
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