Choosing your site’s background: black or white?

Dec
05

The color you choose for your website background will have an influence on your website’s effectiveness. We have already described themes for your business site, and today we have an investigation to find out which background is better: black or white.

Color psychology

The following bunch of psychological studies show how our brain perceives different colors. However, the mental and emotional impact that colors have on people can be used to manipulate their decision making in any spheres of social life.

White, by nature, is a color of serenity, purity, cleanliness, faith, innocence and peace. It also is related to fullness and completion. A wedding dress is traditionally white, while a black cat crossing the road is considered to be a bad sign. Black does not only symbolize sadness and failure, however. It is also a color of sophistication and elegance — remember Coco Chanel’s little black dress. Black is also associated with secrets, something hidden and unknown. It creates an atmosphere of mystery, even magic.

With a text in the foreground

Can you imagine a site with no text at all? We suppose it’s impossible. And the more text you have on your web resource, the more important readability is.

Every person has a favorite color or colors. Personal taste determines which website’s background is beautiful and which is not, while anatomy determines which background is healthier for our eyes. Let’s take a look at the results of some scientific research.

In 1980 Bauer and Cavonius concluded that participants in an experiment were 26% more precise in reading performance when they read dark characters on a light background.

Almost a half of the world’s population has astigmatism. The University of British Columbia found that those people find it harder to read white text on a black background. When looking at a dark display, the iris opens to get more light and this creates a halation — an effect that makes letters look fuzzy, so people have to focus hard to read them. This makes their eyes tired and also slows the reading process slightly.

More recent studies confirm these results. In 2007 Buchner and Baumgartner measured the subject's performance on a proofreading task on a TFT display. They got a similar conclusion: higher proofreading scores were achieved when a black-on-white color scheme was used.

With pictures in the foreground

Black is absolute absorption. It makes the viewer focus on the image, removing all visual obstacles. Black creates an impression of weight and seriousness.

White is absolute reflection. White brings space and volume. It could have a negative effect on warm colors, making them look garish. So, pictures on white backgrounds should preferably have cold colors and dark tones to make a contrast (e.g. yellow on white is a bad idea).

“Black cat or white cat: if it can catch mice, it's a good cat.” (Chinese proverb)

Whatever background you choose for your site is best. Both of them can have a positive effect on readers when used correctly. If most of your website is text information, then we advise you avoid making your reader’s eyes tired and select a white background. If you have more graphic elements, especially in light tones, then the use of a black background would be reasonable.

If you still can’t make up your mind, you may try both.. Using a vertical split screen is now a web design trend. This way you can separate out the different kinds of information and put it on the background that makes them look best.

Also, you can design a changing background. For example, use a white one for a daylight and turn it into a black version after a certain time (after 8 p.m. or so). You may choose any other criteria, too. It depends on your creativity and the object of emphasis.

We offer  graphics support and our specialists can design a background and other elements for your site. Choosing the right background and choose a right company to implement it on your web resource.

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