Tuesday, May 27, 2008

None more black

I wasn't sure about posting this, but hey, I'm new to blogging and am up for any and all ideas on how to make this site better. At the top of class today our professor suggested that I not use a black background with white text because it's hard to read for many people. So I looked at the blog, surfed around a bit, looked back at my blog, surfed around a bit. I have to say, I like how it looks, and I'm not sure it's that hard to read.

Then I thought about my students, and how they take my suggestions on their essays. Most of them are happy to hear what they need to fix to make the grade, though some are sure they know better. Sometimes the fix is factual or grammatical, in which case if they don't fix it, it's wrong. But if it's something stylistic, and might not be how I'd do it but they like it that way, it's tough. I have a degree in English, I've written thousands of essays, and I read essays constantly. I can't stress that word constantly enough. English teachers? With the current personal / reflective essays that my class is writing, I've taken great strides to make sure that their voice is preserved and that I don't end up with 70 essays that sound like me, except from El Salvador, or Anacostia.

In this case, our professor works on computers for a living, teaches classes on it, and has written far more blog posts than me (not to mention has worked on / seen more blogs, websites, forums). I'm torn, so I tried to do some research. I Googled "black blog background" (name that poetic device). The first thing I found was that Google briefly considered switching to a black backdrop to save energy. They did some research, found that it wouldn't change anything, and abandoned ship. Interestingly, ReducedMass.com (a science blog) shows how it DID lower the power usage on CRTs, but not flat screens. I looked on. I found a web design blog from Sweden where the author hates white on black. But in the comment section, a few folks say that their optometrist told them to switch to white on black for less eye strain. There were no links to any hard studies. A few folks make mention of photo sites that use white on black, like this one.

I don't know. I think I'm going to leave it for now, but please comment with any thoughts, opinions or studies you know of about readability. I have a few friends who design for a living, I'm going to hit them up, too. I'm not changing it, yet. For now my site remains none more black.


Jeff said...

Eric, I'm an editor at Fast Company, and I'm working on a story about Michelle Rhee and DCPS. I'd love to talk with you. Email: jchu@fastcompany.com.

Best, Jeff

Jumbo Slice said...

"black blog background" = alliteration?

I build my sites with a light background and dark text but that's just me. There's no hard and fast rules on it. It's all personal preference.

The Editor said...

I like the look of white text against a dark background, but I think it does strain the eye... at least in my experience. If you'll be posting long pieces, and by that I mean anything more than a paragraph or two, I would suggest going the standard route of using black text. But, hey, what do I know? It's all personal preference. If you like it the way it is, leave it. It's your blog... One of the few things in life that is totally and completely yours. Enjoy.