Fw: colors and backgrounds for web pages

  • From: james.homme@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: ETM_Usability_Engineering_&_Methodology_Governance@xxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 14:48:47 -0400

This was so funny at the end, I just had to share it with you. I have
resembled the remark a time or two.


James D Homme, , Usability Engineering, Highmark Inc.,
james.homme@xxxxxxxxxxxx, 412-544-1810

"Never doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the
world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead

----- Forwarded by James D Homme/Contractor/Highmark on 10/30/2007 02:47 PM
             mark                                                       To
                                       James D                         
             10/30/2007 02:44          Homme/Contractor/Highmark@HighmarkN
             PM                        otes                            
                                       Usability Engineering           
                                       Re: Fw: colors and backgrounds for
                                       web pages(Document link: James D

Wow!  John Greer rants as much as I do.  :)

Color is a complex subject and is often subjective but I believe that a
blind person can make pleasing color choices if they follow some basic
color rules.  John Greer covered the emotional aspect but there's also the
technical side.  Emotionally you want to pick a starting color based on the
mood you wish to convey - for example, cool colors are calming and warmer
colors are energizing.  Once you have your starting color, use the color
wheel to choose a color scheme.  There are different types of color schemes
such as analogous (colors next to each other), monochromatic, and
complementary (colors opposite each other).  The color wheel doesn't lie
and picking colors this way is a time proven method for finding pleasing
color combinations.

I know... you can't see the color wheel.  Since colors on the computer are
represented numerically, all this work is really just mathematics.
Thankfully people who are much smarter than I am have written programs to
do all this stuff.  Google shows numerous color scheme tools that will
generate color schemes from a starting color.

The second gotcha is the contrast of the colors you choose.  Once again,
it's mathematics.  The W3C has written about contrast and accessibility and
even has algorithms that test the contrast.  I use PhotoShop to measure the
brightness but I am sure there are online tools for this.

The last comment is that there is the symbolic aspect of color.  Things
like red = stop, green = go are paradigms that you should be aware of and
try not to contradict.  Don't have green stop buttons and red go buttons.

Since this is all pretty much theory right now, it would be wise to ask for
feedback from sighted people.  I don't want you coming to work dressed in
green pants with pink polka dots blaming it on 'Mike's mathematics'.   :-)

Mike Nye
Usability Engineering & Methodology Governance
Highmark Inc.
Phone: 717-302-1696

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             James D                                                   
             Highmark                                                   To
                                       Usability Engineering           
             10/30/2007 08:08                                           cc
                                       Fw: colors and backgrounds for web

Is this description accurate? What would you add to enlighten me so to
speak? :)



James D Homme, , Usability Engineering, Highmark Inc.,
james.homme@xxxxxxxxxxxx, 412-544-1810

"Never doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the
world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead

----- Forwarded by James D Homme/Contractor/Highmark on 10/30/2007 08:07 AM
             "John Greer"                                              
             l.com>                                                     To
             Sent by:                  programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx  
             programmingblind-                                          cc
             org                                                   Subject
                                       Re: colors and backgrounds for web
             10/29/2007 03:09                                          
             Please respond to                                         

The first thing to ask is what kind of website are you trying to make.
kind of website you are trying to put out to the people needs to be a
determining factor because you wouldn't want a banking website to have a
background with brite green text.  Why you might ask?  Because when people
are visiting a banking website a rule of advertising for them is they want
to come across as secure and stable.  So for that most of them will just
the standard black text on a white background.  I am going to try to help
associating a color with a mood and see if that helps.
red= A color that is for fun things, like a clown's red nose, a red ball.
blue = the color of the sky or ocean.  Think of how you feel when you visit

either but keep in mind that when in the water although sighted people can
see underwater it is a bit hard to see unless you have a mask.
green = an earthen color, the color of grass, trees etc.  Green text
doesn't work unless you have a dark dark background color.  Also for mixed
colors like green, blue and yellow make green, it is always a good idea not

to use either color that make up a certain color with the color that they
make.  For example you would not want to have green text on a yellow
background.  That would make things a bit hard to see.  You could however
have yellow text on a blue background.  Why you might ask?  Because it is
also another rule of thumb to have either a dark color as a background and
light color as text or vice versa.
Yellow = it is the color of the sun, many times it can be very bright,
times rather soothing to the eyes again depending on the time of day, and
its background.  You can use yellow as a background color quite effectively

with black text if it is a light but not too bright yellow background.  Why

you might ask, just associate yellow as day and black as night.  So yes,
yellow text on a black background will also work.
black= well for some of us black is probably pretty self explanatory.
means no light can pass through.  A black background can be used if
contrasted with a bright color such as yellow, green, red, orange.  To
understand black you have to also understand the mood associated with it.
To some black is scary, to some black is also a mysterious color.  You must

also understand black in the way that it works in the sense of a computer
monitor.  All televisions and monitors work off of the same principal.
There are 3 colors that can make every color that is visible on a screen.
Red, green and blue.  The description of how the aliens could see in HG
Wells' War of the Worlds still amazes me considering when the book was
actually written.  Basically what you have with red green and blue are
colors that can make any other color when mixed together with varying
brightnesses.  Now back to the black, black on a computer monitor is
produced when you drop the brightness of all three colors down to zero.  OK

I will shut up now, I do hope to write a book one day on the subject so I
don't want to give it all away in a single email, but I hope it made a
little sense to some.
JohnPG search for all of your Jaws scripts at http://www.blindcrawler.com/
Also be sure to check out Blind Crawler's Legend of the Green Dragon server

at http://www.blindcrawler.com/lotg/
There will be more to come from Blind Crawler very soon.
Administrator: John Greer
Blind Crawler.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alex Parks" <mehgcap@xxxxxxx>
To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 1:25 PM
Subject: re: colors and backgrounds for web pages

>I normally just take the suggestions of one or two sighted people about
>colors, then ask others what they think and go with the color(s) that most

>liked.  It isn't a clean way of doing it and is far from independant, but
>it is the best I have seen.  I also have enough vision to imagine what
>things might look like, so if I know I want to use black and orange on a
>page I can picture (sort of) what black text on orange would look like and

>then orange on black.  You might also want a scheme like this, then use js

>to allow the viewer to dynamically change the scheme.
> Have a great day,
> Alex
>> ----- Original Message -----
>>From: "Lamar Upshaw" <lupshaw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>Date sent: Mon, 29 Oct 2007 08:00:31 -0800
>>Subject: colors and backgrounds for web pages
>>Hi everyone,
>>Sighted people are giving me a hard time because my web pages
> aren't
>>breathing fires of colorful flames! *smile*  Where can I go, or
> what should
>>I study to learn about colors and backgrounds for web pages?
> Also, is this
>>something that blind people can really do? Or, will I need lots
> of sighted
>>With All Respect,
>>Upshaw, LaMar T
>>View the list's information and change your settings at
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