Re: colors and backgrounds for web pages

  • From: "John Greer" <jpgreer17@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2007 16:30:47 -0500

Basically, what is being said is a website is, or can be an artistic expression. Even with the most eye catching colors jumping out at you, it can still not have the ability to apeal to everyone. There is no set in stone method of what colors go with what, so if you try to think of it in terms of the mood you are trying to convey. What sites like the W3c schools will show you is the technical side of things but it will not show you how to use those colors to paint your picture in the way that you feel. For example if you are making a page about elephants, there is a color called ivory. Ivory is kind of a yellowish white. Another color associated with elephants is grey. Think of it in terms of the elephants body is grey. The body of an elephant is much bigger than the ivory of the tusks, so one of the things that will of course stand out to a person seeing the elephant is the tusks. So in short, a person making such a website could use a dark grey background with an ivory colored text as long as it is a fairly dark shade of grey. The reason for a dark grey and not a lighter one is because the more brightness you add to a color the harder it will become to see a bright colored text. Also in most cases what you are trying to draw the visitors attention to is the text of the page, what your page says. So the more visually pronounced your text is can also have an effect. Experiment with font sizes, the bigger the font the more attention you are trying to draw to what it says. For example you can have 2 bits of text the exact same size but if you want to draw more attention to a certain part of text you can use a bold attribute to emphasis it. That is by the way a sighted person in most cases can tell the difference between a standard link text and just standard reading text. With linked text visually the browser will usually have the text underlined and blue if unvisited, purple if visited. These of course can be changed also to either make them easier to see or just for artistic reasons. As an example of this I have changed the link colors of my website to green for an unvisited link or red for a visited one. And of course artisticly I am saying green means you need to go to this link or red to say hey you can stop if you want because you have already been here. On the search results screen however I do keep the link text the same color as the rest of the text because I want to draw attention to the search result as a whole and not just what the link says. But as I have said websites are a bit of an artistic expression so have fun with them but try to keep the rules of contrast and mood in mind.

JohnPG search for all of your Jaws scripts at
Also be sure to check out Blind Crawler's Legend of the Green Dragon server at
There will be more to come from Blind Crawler very soon.
Administrator: John Greer
----- Original Message ----- From: "tribble" <lauraeaves@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 3:50 PM
Subject: Re: colors and backgrounds for web pages

Actually it isn't only the brightness that is important when picking a
background and foreground color -- the contrast is probably the most
important, and relative brightness is only part of what makes a color
contrast.  Yellow text on blue background is a good choice for high
contrast, as yellow is brighter than blue on the computer screen, but also
because the blue background lights up the blue pixels and the yellow text
lights up the green and red pixels, so as far as light is concerned, yellow
and blue are complementary.
If you want your page to be easy to read by low vision visitors, a dark
background with light text is better, but for normally sighted persons,
black on white or any dark color on white is also ok, as long as there is a
What to avoid: things like purple on red or blue as purple lights up blue
and red pixels and therefore does not produce much contrast. Similarly cyan
on green... you get the idea.
Finally, the content of your page might lend itself to display in colors
with various emotional associations. For example, for whatever reason,
purple is often used in pictures to convey a mood of fantasy or magic or
dreaminess, but this is obviously subjective and even culturally dependent. Being someone who has spent my life watching my vision slowly fade away and
dealing with the frustration of not being able to see certain color
combinations clearly due to lack of contrast, and also being someone who
loves color and its associations, I would recommend that you select colors
with care on your site, as color has a significant impact on the reader,
even if he/she doesn't realize it at the time.
If you are totally blind and have never seen, it is hard to explain this
type of mental association.  Recently I bought a "Color Test" color
identifier from the American Printing House for the blind -- they have 2
models, the expensive one being the color test. I got the expensive one as
in my trials I found it more accurate. Also, the Color Test will optionally break down the color of an object into its primary components of red, green
and blue.  Now I still have some color vision and can see most colors
without using the Color Test, but this has given me the ability to hear the actual breakdown of the colors I have always looked at visually -- and I can say that if I were totally blind and never had seen and used a color test, I
wouldn't be able to make heads or tails out of the color breakdown.  There
is a little of blue in even most of the brightest yellow, for example. The
thing to remember about color breakdown is that white has exactly 1 third
each of red, blue and green, and if something is sky blue, it is like white
mixed with a little extra blue, so the breakdown will contain seemingly a
large amount of red and green, but the eye/brain does not perceive them.
Anyway, good luck and happy hacking.

----- Original Message ----- From: "John Greer" <jpgreer17@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 3:09 PM
Subject: Re: colors and backgrounds for web pages

The first thing to ask is what kind of website are you trying to make. What
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 red
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 use the standard black text on a white background. I am going to try to help by
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 however
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 a
light color as text or vice versa.
Yellow = it is the color of the sun, many times it can be very bright, other
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. Black
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 fully
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 three
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
Also be sure to check out Blind Crawler's Legend of the Green Dragon server
There will be more to come from Blind Crawler very soon.
Administrator: John Greer
----- 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,

----- 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
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

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