On 10/11/13 10:01, Pau Giner wrote:
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/

Amusingly, the text there is too light to be comfortably read, at least on my screen.

Really, though, it strikes me as a case of taking a thing too far. You do need to be careful when to use black, but there are also some pretty clear times when it is appropriate, and it comes down to the same principle of context as anything else, or any other colour.
With painting, shadows are a particularly strange example. They're almost never black unless the objects in shadow are black, sure, but thinking in terms of shadow colour instead of the colours of the things in shadow doesn't make sense for precisely that reason. All objects have their own colours, but it's the bits in light that stand out - they're the significantly brighter versions of the object colours, or the tinted versions if it's a coloured light. We only use black shadows in more abstract design because... well, why do we?
Because we don't have real light sources/colours? Because we can't think in raytracing terms with everything? Just imagine a future when all our 2D interfaces are rendered by raytracing so they have exactly precise lighting, even matching the external lighting conditions...

More to the point, I do find it a bit odd that folks are so afraid of black on white just in principle. How harsh is it really, with a good renderer? For issues of eye strain and such, is that really because of the palette? Or do perhaps the antialiasing, font itself, or size and boldness of the text have as much to do with it?