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"White background with black text is hard to read and very boring"

I just received a review of my website from a subordinate of our marking person and one of the things they said was that "White background with black text is hard to read and very boring".

Has anyone heard this before? Is this true but only for the iWeb2.0 hacks? Or should I change our website to be black background with yellow text?

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From a strict usability standpoint, black on white is the most readable. There are lots of references to back you up - here's one: http://www.usability.gov/pdfs/chapter11.pdf

That said, I personally find a light non-white background with black text to be even more comfortable to read than pure white backgrounds. That's just a personal preference though. On our college site, we do use black on white.

Besides, designs can be lively and interesting and still have black text on a white background.
Just for general purpose stuff, I frequently use something like #eee for backgrounds. Still white-like, but just a tad softer. But as for that person's comment, I'd say it's ridiculous, generally speaking. Unless it's like a page of nothing but black Times New Roman on a white background with zero dressing otherwise.
I've noticed that #fff + #000 can be hard to read sometimes on some of the newer displays out there. The LED displays and large screens in general make the white background really bright sometimes, and it can be rough on the eyes.

A perfect example of what I'd prefer is this page itself - it's not nearly as bright as a basic brand new page, but the "black on white" description still applies. I've also been known to use the strategy Christina and Michael suggested as well, to tone down the contrast just a bit.
I agree with everyone's comments. I keep the white background and tone the text down to something like a #3e3e3e.
Brian's comment is dead on. I bought a couple new Dell displays recently, and those panels were so bright compared to my older Sony LCD that I got a headache if I used both displays at the same time.

Screen brightness is like screen resolution or color depth or font availability - one more thing we have no control over. Some older CRTs out there benefit from a #FFF background, but the newest LCDs make it overpowering. Its up to the individual to adjust their screen brightness to a comfortable level.

I have seen many sites, including this one, that use #333 or #444 text on a #FFF background. A lighter black reduces the contrast range and seems to help a bit.

As for the complaint from your marketing subordinate, that's quite a broad statement with a heavy does of personal preference. I actually find white text on black to be much harder to read for extended periods. And boring? Wow, they've got to bring a better argument to the table than that.
Honestly, what was so wrong with back in the day when we had bright green on dark green, and that was it? :D
We never know, it could come back! : )

My ten-year-old son loves that retro look and designs his pages that way. He thinks it looks more "techy."
I'm sorry I can't reply... this is on a white background with black text that is hard to read and very boring.

Sorry I couldn't help myself... I mean really!

Looks like reading through this thread lots of good feedback so someone had to be the devil's advocate. :)
those are great suggestions! we will try to incorporate this into our redesign.
Likewise, I dim down the text, usually in the range of #404040 on white or slightly off-white. Very subtle shifts do make it a little easier on the eyes IMO.

Color choices aren't "boring" alone though... particular attention to typography is important too.
White background with black text is hard to read and very boring

Hmm, well, all things about what we know of readability and contrast aside, the message this person is sending is that "I don't like it."

Would it be an appropriate gesture to ask the marketing person to tell you more about their comment?

If they respond "I read this report from such and such" and can back up their claim, then maybe it's worth listening to. If they respond that "My favorite website has a pretty blue background and pink polka-dots" then you can understand where they're coming from.
There have been studies done that baby boomers prefer clean with white space and that the younger generations prefers cluttered and dark background. I think ning is a good example of a site that does a good job trying to find a happy medium. Notice the dark gray background but the body of the page is white. Also the text in this forum is a dark gray and not black.

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