Why Background and Text color choices matter

I think we need to have a talk about websites with horrible background and color choices which make text unreadable.

UPDATE: To point out something I ‘thought about’ but didn’t put in this post… I actually think that there are font colors with hue below 500 that are perfectly valid (I stumbled across one while entering the numbers into the calculator on that site). And this is not a guide on how to ‘pick good choices’ I do ‘not’ know what others think is ‘good’ when it comes to art stuff. But I do know when something is bad, and I went and found some math to show when things are bad (personally again, I think the ‘color index’ is more important than the ‘hue’). And that the reason the choices of color matters is because of eye strain (if you can even read the text in the picture at all, which I can’t without getting RIGHT UP on the screen and focusing hard)

I have a screenshot below of an offending website that hosts stories online. I have replaced the text with lorem ipsum random text. (So as to not name & shame the site publicly (yet…))


Honestly I never knew the ‘math’ behind determining if two colors are of a high enough contrast, but I did a google search and found a good enough site what explains it and shows how to do the calculations yourself.


NOW… lets look at the site’s colors….

Color of the background: 555554
Color of the text: 424242

The RGB values are: 55 55 54
The RGB values are: 42 42 42

Calculating the index of the background color

( 299*55 + 578*55 + 114*54 ) / 1000

(16445 + 31790 + 6156 ) / 1000

( 54391 ) / 1000

brightness index of background color is 54.391

Calculating the index of the text color

( 299*42 + 578*42 + 114*42 ) / 1000

(12558 + 24276 + 4788 ) / 1000

( 41622 ) / 1000

brightness index of the text is 41.622

Calculating the difference between color indexes

[background color index] – [text color index]

54.391 – 41.622

Brightness Difference: 12.769

12.769 is ONE TENTH the difference that is needed to make text readable……

The website even rounds up and the site still fails….

Brightness difference = 13 (Fail)
Hue difference = 38 (Fail)
These colors don’t have enough contrast.

SO…. can we please -not- have websites that are -physically- difficult to read? ( Well, other than Tumblr ;)  )


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