Friday, August 03, 2007

Web 'greying' a triumph of taste over usability, claims guru

Making Web colors readible ...

"Respected web consultant Gerry McGovern complains in his most recent email newsletter about the “greying” of the web.

The use of grey text rather than straightforward black is an outstanding example of the way some site creators seem to value the appearance of their website more highly than its functionality, usefulness or usability, he says.

“Few would dispute that it is harder to read text on a screen than in print,” McGovern says. “Most would agree that black text on a slightly off-white background is easiest to read. It could also be argued that font size for web pages should be slightly larger than font sizes chosen for print.

“So, why do an increasing number of websites today use small font sizes and grey text? The answer is simple: small fonts and grey text look better. They blend into the overall design of the page. They are more elegant and visually appealing.

“The problem with larger font sizes and black text is that they stand out. They can dominate the page. This is exactly what makes them easier to read.”

The look of a website may act as an initial attractor, but the first impression is very transitory, McGovern says. “The fact is we don’t spend our time looking at websites. We spend our time reading and using them.”

Respondents on the giraffeforum.com site, where McGovern has posted the same comment, argue for a more moderate view of the appeal of web design. “Web design is moving away from art and moving toward a science,” one commentator, calling himself “Web Design Dave” suggests. “It’s no longer about having the coolest looking site; it’s about implementing the design features that will convert the most traffic into leads.” This is by no means inimical to usability, he says.

“In order for people to inquire about your products they have to be able to use your site without getting frustrated,” says “Dave”."    (Continued via Computerworld)    [Usability Resources]

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