I think that both extremes have negative consequences.

Contrast is a tool for making more/less prominent what it is more/less important. If you make everything high contrast, or use a very similar grey palette for all text it becomes hard to communicate what it is more important and help users to perceive the visual hierarchy. Thus, the perceived complexity is increased.

they also make controversial choices like pure white text on a pure black background
Agree. Another interesting link on why to avoid pure black: http://ianstormtaylor.com/design-tip-never-use-black/

On Sun, Nov 10, 2013 at 2:38 AM, Quiddity <pandiculation@gmail.com> wrote:
On 13-11-09 03:08 PM, Steven Walling wrote:

On Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 12:57 AM, Pau Giner <pginer@wikimedia.org
<mailto:pginer@wikimedia.org>> wrote:

    An interesting link defending those ideas with some examples:

I agree we should be very careful to preserve readability, but I find
that site a little ridiculous. It's arguing that we don't have to
sacrifice aesthetics for readability... and it's ugly as sin. "High
contrast" pairings like #cfba58 on black don't help their case.

Aesthetic choices are subjective. I like their palette, but can see how it wouldn't be universally appealing. (which is one of the reasons why we've historically gone with a grey or muted palette in Wikipedia. It turns-off the least number of people.)

Contrast (in contrast!) is objectively measurable, and #cfba58 on black is high-contrast, as checked at http://www.snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html

Readability is not just about contrast. In that very site, they also
make controversial choices like pure white text on a pure black
background, which is not universally agreed to be easy on the
eyes.[1][2] Part of the reason I understand that there's been a movement
away from 'pure white on black' as a standard for text is that high
levels of contrast can be hard on your eyes with extended reading...
such as reading long Wikipedia articles.

"extended reading" is not a factor in that site, though... ;P

However, I agree with the general point, and i think the creators of contrastrebellion would too, but they concentrated on knocking down the target (http://contrastrebellion.com/public/images/page2-img1.jpg), and didn't go into the tangential topics of very-high-contrast-in-large-quantities, or color blindness.

Personally, I've occasionally used the "zap white backgrounds" bookmarklet (adapted to use a light grey) found here https://www.squarefree.com/bookmarklets/zap.html for many years. Though usually if I start to get eyestrain from reading too much Wikipedia, that's a sign that I'm overdue for a stand&stretch, or I need to adjust my room's lighting. :)


Steven Walling,
Product Manager

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Pau Giner
Interaction Designer
Wikimedia Foundation