Yes, it has been a while but rather than go into reasons for the absence of fresh content on this blog, I’m just going to start writing to banish the tumbleweed. It is what I’d recommend others to do when their blog feels abandoned, even for a few years – just start writing again.
Anyway – I spotted an intriguing link on Pinterest about brand colours and as I’m considering this for Blogmistress, figured I’d visit. The page feels like it’s a rather gentle and lovely cream colour, but the font is a mid grey – I had to adjust my eyes (not quite squinting, but close) to read. Thankfully the font and the size is fine but quite frankly if I’m looking for advice on branding colours and I cannot read without thinking about it – not the place for me and my immediate reaction is to leave.
I probably will read because the content may be great and it could be that the writer is not responsible for the design. It is such a shame that so many websites – I’d say about a quarter of those I visit – just don’t consider this aspect of usability. It’s not just about accessibility – that can make people a little dismissive (sadly) or overwhelming – but usability. Can most of your visitors read with ease your wondrous content. It matters.
Such things can be tested, ideally by real people – ask people you know for their honest opinion (not just people who will say it’s awesome – which it probably is, but awesome needs to include usable!). You could bravely put out an ask on Twitter, for instance, though I’d be more inclined to ask more gentle groups of peers within Slack communities (if you’re not in any as yet, do a search for Slack and your area of industry/interest, perhaps. Or pop a comment below and I’ll make whatever suggestions I can.
Accessibility resources such as those provided by the W3C WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) are invaluable. This selection of accessibility online tools includes those that test for W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which I think is a standard to aim for, and these are in English. Other guidelines and languages are available; you can select those on the page.
For colour contrast, visit https://color.a11y.com/Contrast/ and see the results, adjusting things (or get your designer/developer to do this) accordingly. But even with this, you cannot beat real people looking. The page I refer to above gets a good result – turns out the background actually is white but to me it feels creamy alongside the other colours used – thus human testing can be more important than we may consider.
Other sites I’ve visited have such small font that I really do have to squint to read. And of course we can Ctrl+ (or Mac equivalent) to make things bigger, but we should not have to do that, and can we even actually do that on mobile devices? We have to think about this; it’s not difficult to consider things other than the aesthetic your designer puts before you, or that the theme provides – look at it yourself as your visitors might. A larger font may not look as delightful, but what’s the point if people can’t read it without having to make the text larger.
I really just want to encourage you to keep things as simple as you can for your visitors, your customers. The whole idea of “Don’t Make Me Think” is still valid and always will be, I’m sure.
Also, I am aware that I’m writing this on a website that uses lots of contrasts that can do better, hence looking at the page above on branding colours that work. So what I shall do is get over my dislike of encouraging people’s poor usability websites with my visit and go read then apply what I find to be good usability here. I could probably waffle less too 😉