Changing Forum Colors For Readability

Hello all, I'm a newbie here but I do have some experience with display technology. One item that is well understood in my field has to do with the contrast ratio of text and it's readability. The luminance ratio of the text vs background is much more important than color contrast. So, for example, orange over grey may have seem to have a lot color contrast but the luminance contrast is bad. Why is that you ask? Well orange is made of "high luminance" colors green and red. Blue is a very low luminance color. Grey is a just a darker white with equal amounts of red, green and blue. But the luminance is mostly due to the red and green. Therefore orange on grey may be "iso-luninant" , and that makes reading difficult. Iso-chrominant is not as much of an issue. However there are bad choices here as well, for example , saturated blue on black (blue has low luminance). Unsaturated colors, by definition, contain more white (an added amount of red, green and blue together).

To make things readable, I recommend choosing a basic scheme first - e.g. darker (less luminant) text on lighter (more luminant) background. The extreme is, of course, black text on white. Then choose darker colors for text - such as a darker orange. And lighter (and generally less saturated) colors of background (light grey).

Don't feel bad that the color scheme needs improving. Google is still have issues getting theirs right.


Hi cod37, and welcome.

You've shown you know how to think about displaying. But do you have problems with the way things are (any trouble reading this site)? Or do you mean any site should be made conform the recommendations you just made ?

I'm fine with the way things are, but i haven't calculated that opinion in any way ("it just looks OK").

Browsing the forum sections where most of the text is orange does seem to cause faster than average eye strain for me. I recognized the orange-on-grey scheme as the likely culprit but certainly could not explain it so well. So thanks, cod37, and welcome!

Hi MAS3, Yes, I do have difficulty reading this site. I was not just showing off my knowledge. :)

And hi Jack, you are the first data point, and i'll be the second one.

I would also note that contrast ratio applies to greys as well. What may look OK on one monitor may be pretty close to unreadable on another due to similarity in luminance. Therefore, designers must allow for some leeway for the real world.

You sent an administrator and me a PM a few hours ago asking to change the color scheme.
I’m just some newbie here (less than a year active) and i can’t be of any help with that, but also i can’t say i’m having any difficulty reading this site.
I spend at least an hour a day over here and can’t say i feel fatigue because of that.
But i’m assuming you are right and backed by some research.
I’m not a youngster, and i’m not old (but that youngster might think different about that).
You said “to make things readable” and “one must design…”, and that implies the site is impossible to use and also implies there would be some standard any website has to comply to.
A recommendation is an advice one can consider or omit.
Words like “must” and “have to” don’t look like a recommendation to me, more like an order to change something.

My recommendation would be to add an extra style for the forum (i’m not sure if this can be used for the entire site) for people that have trouble reading it.
I know other forums offer different styles to be chosen by the user, but don’t know the “simple machine” software allows such options.
Neither do i know if and how how troublesome it would be to offer multiple styles.

The the orange-on-grey scheme is an abomination, verging on unreadable to my eyes. Although I don’t have the technical background in this field that cod37 obviously does I’ve done a lot of publication work and the name of the game for clear text is contrast, orange-on-grey is all very arty and I admit has a nice pastel look, but it has bugger-all contrast and this not an art-appreciation class.


I have no trouble reading it at all, also may I remind you what the old forum was, yea baby blue on grey on white ... least it aint that

I agree. Though the orange isn't has bad as the light grey background on posts and the darker grey characters on top of that. I have seen members change there characters in a post to black with the editor.

Basically like this. Doesn't this seem more readable?

Also, if you're using Firefox, you customize how websites look, Just make sure when you change the settings, that you are on the page you want to customize.

Thanks for the replies -

MAS3: Sorry, I think the other guy may be pretty official - any suggestions on others to PM. Groetjes, Dave Rob: Yep Osgeld: You eyes are probably younger than mine. :) codlink: Your example is right on. This is bad choice called isoluminant This is a worse choice, even more isoluminant This is really really nasty Blue is a low luminance color, hence readable if fairly saturated Bright Green is the highest luminance color - also high res Dark Orange is better