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  1. #1
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    Grey text site of the month

    Looks like yet another site has gone down the route of 'Let's make the text as light as physically possible, while only JUST being able to see it'.

    Then they lose it when they get to the almost invisible links at the very bottom of the page.

    I see that even Sitepoint has become 'greyed', ridiculous grey border lines which might as well not be there, grey nav bar, ridiculous links all over the place which AREN'T CLEARLY LINKS, because they aren't underlined, and aren't in buttons, so it's impossible to tell, just by looking, what is a link, and what is a title.

    Hurrah for grey text! I no longer need to go for walks on the misty moors, or run a hot bath to make my bathroom full of steam, I can view my websites as if I'm looking through a mist!

    When is this stupid trend going to end? I see that grey border lines, which are almost invisible, is the 'new thing' among web designers...
    Last edited by Stevie D; Oct 10, 2012 at 11:53. Reason: Link and website reference removed

  2. #2
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    I wonder if somebody will one day set a legal precedent when they sue (or win a case against) a site that uses grey text for a link to its legal page, or terms and conditions, and the customer says they didn't see the link because it was too LIGHT to notice, and all because some moronic, sheep like 'designer' wanted to make everything as difficult to read as possible.

    Ooh... the irony... I have to manually edit EVERY POST I MAKE to make the text BLACK. Thanks, Sitepoint! Can't have that 'harsh, clinical' #000000 getting in the way of your designer's ideals, can we... LOL!

  3. #3
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    As I explained on your other thread, we do not operate a 'name and shame' policy on these forums. We're more than happy to (politely and respectfully) discuss design features that irritate the heck out of you, but we're not in the business of setting out to damage a company's reputation.

    There are some advantages of using grey text over black ... particularly if you go for a dark charcoal shade rather than a light silver shade – it can make text easier to read, particularly for people with dyslexia, and it can appear less threatening than the starkness of black against white.

    On the other hand, I do completely agree that too many sites go for what they perceive as a trendy route, with the greys far too pale to be read easily.

    Part of the problem is the different people see a page in different contexts. The age and quality of your monitor plays a role. The ambient lighting around you plays a role. Whether you have any form of anti-aliasing or sub-pixel hinting plays a role. And that's before you even get down to the question of an individual's eyesight, which can create huge problems for some people reading text that has insufficient contrast.

    If designers are used to seeing text render crisply and cleanly on a high quality screen in perfect light conditions, and have 20:20 vision themselves, it needs quite a lot of empathy to come to terms with the need to use dark text. Why do designers dislike dark text so much? Because a lot of them see text as simply another design element to be manipulated in search of improved aesthetics. Black or very dark text can dominate a page's appearance at the expense of the design features that they have put most of their effort into, so they try to soften it so that the graphics come to the fore.

    I'm not saying that all designers are like that – not by a long way. Just that there is a significant minority who have a tendency to put aesthetics ahead of practicality.

  4. #4
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    Have a look at the new Ebay site - look at the left hand column when you are looking at products - there is a grey 'highlight' when you mouseover different sections of it - but the designer is so obsessed with GREY that there is almost no difference between the 'highlight' grey and the original grey! And this is what it's come to - meaningless GREY everywhere, on all the 'big' websites. We might as well all sell our colour monitors and buy GREYscale ones.

    Still, I'll give Ebay one thing - 99% of the text on their site is high contrast, with only a tiny few bits of grey to ruin things...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ihategreytext View Post
    there is almost no difference between the 'highlight' grey and the original grey!
    It stands out very strongly on my monitor (if I'm looking at the right page)—so as Stevie said, it can depend a lot of the monitor, lighting etc. Gray is handy where yo don't want too many colors conflicting with each other on the page. There's already enough color on the Ebay page, IMHO.

  6. #6
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    On my monitors it's only a very slightly different shade of grey, maybe you were looking at another page - this is the bit I mean:

    Ebay grey.jpg

    The top grey is #F5F5F5, the lower is #EFEFEF.

    Anyway - this is interesting, another example, IMHO, of design over functionality:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ex...#_Toc293583899

    I was scanning down the page trying to find various sections, and it seems that Microsoft have gone for the 'Let's not use any clear titles or dividers, or anything really, to distinguish one topic from the next, a la Windows 8 stylee'. It's insane. They have the same size margin above a section title as below it, for example, and that wretched Segoe UI Light font as well. All done, of course, in GREY text, #444444 to be precise...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    [font=verdana]
    Off Topic:

    As I explained on your other thread, we do not operate a 'name and shame' policy on these forums. We're more than happy to (politely and respectfully) discuss design features that irritate the heck out of you, but we're not in the business of setting out to damage a company's reputation.
    I am quite amazed that I can't even discuss the specific design choices of a given website. I just looked back at my original post and now it doesn't make any sense, since nobody knows what site I am talking about! Are my two first sentences really going to "damage a company's reputation"? Which company using their services would be reading Sitepoint? All I stated was my opinion of what their site looks like- anybody wanting to use their services is surely going to see their website, and decide for themselves whether it's too grey?

    Now I look like an idiot to anybody reading that first post, it's just meaningless without being able to actually SEE the site in question. What should I do? Take a screen shot of the salient parts, and keep out any reference to the actual company? I don't mind as long as we can all see what on earth I'm talking about.

  8. #8
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    I've smudged out any identifying information, isn't this too light to read easily? (This is a different site, I could post up a hundred different sites like this).

    greysite1.jpg

  9. #9
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by ihategreytext View Post
    I am quite amazed that I can't even discuss the specific design choices of a given website. I just looked back at my original post and now it doesn't make any sense, since nobody knows what site I am talking about! Are my two first sentences really going to "damage a company's reputation"? Which company using their services would be reading Sitepoint? All I stated was my opinion of what their site looks like- anybody wanting to use their services is surely going to see their website, and decide for themselves whether it's too grey?
    The reason that we don't "name and shame" companies without their knowledge or involvement is this. There have been incidents in the past where Sitepoint Forum threads have appeared high up in the search results for a query on the company name, and in some cases even beating the actual company website. How bad would it look for a Bob's International Widgets if the top result in Google for that term was not bobsinternationalwidgets.com but a forum thread slating that site's design? While you, or even I, might personally think that the site is appalling and deserves to be humiliated in that way, the forums are not our personal blogs or websites and we have to be mindful of that fact. Sitepoint does not want to be on the receiving end of claims for defamation or loss of earnings – even if those claims are completely untenable, we don't want to have to deal with them. So we make sure that we don't have to deal with them, by not allowing comments or discussions that could fall into that category.

  10. #10
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    Just to 'bump' this topic - the grey text problem is getting worse. It's almost everywhere nowadays, almost every site I go on has ridiculously light text, some of them seem to be in a 'race to invisibility', seeing who can make text that's almost completely invisible. Some of them particularly like to do this on their legal notices in the footer of the page, which opens them up to losing a legal battle in court, because visitors will be perfectly within their rights to say "I didn't see your legal notice because you deliberately went out of your way to make it almost impossible to see."
    This 'grey' insanity has also moved into the software world, where a certain software manufacturer (who presumably I cannot name) now have a laughably bad 'Mouse Centre' in their operating system (I can't imagine what it's called), which defies all the basic rules of user interface design - no clear sign of what is or is not a 'button' or can be clicked, ridiculously light text that is almost impossible to see, five stupid tiny little squares (about 4 pixels wide) at the bottom, which are supposed to show which of five screens you are on, I could go and on. They also bought version 2012 of one of their programs, something to do with 'studios' (Google it) and gave that the same type of insanely GREY look, removing ALL colour from their icons, so they could make them GREY, also removing clear border lines from within each section of the program window, so you can no longer easily see what goes where.

    Then we have their operating system, in which they chose to totally remove any borders on scrollbars, and also made the colour of the scrollbar the same as the colour of the rest of the window below it (where the 'Save' button, etc. are), and made the scrollbar arrows virtually invisible, and only make them higher contrast AFTER you mouse over them! Great!

    It is literally as if all the UI and website designers are doing absolutely everything they can to make as difficult as possible for their users.
    Even this forum is full of GREY GREY GREY everywhere, I'm sick of it. Useless GREY lines everywhere, which are almost impossible to see, so why put them there at all?

    When are web designers going to learn how to THINK for themselves, and stop following this insane trend?
    Thankfully I came across the portfolio of a web designer today, purely by chance, who has made loads of beautiful, COLOURFUL sites, without a hint of grey. I'll be glad when this stupid trend is over - and that's all it is, despite what all the cretins who have jumped on the bandwagon like to claim - it's a case of the blind leading the blind.


    (Forgot that I had to change all of my text to BLACK because even the geniuses at Sitepoint don't care about W3C minimum standards on contrast, nor on the Disabilities Discrimination Act, vis a vis the partially sighted. Well done.)

  11. #11
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    <tongue-in-cheek>O man, you just don't understand design do you! Who cares if content is illegible, as long at it's pretty! O, hang on, let me rewrite that: O man, you just don't understand design do you! Who cares if content is illegible, as long at it's pretty!</tongue-in-cheek>

    Not sure what OS you are on, but mine has an 'accessibility mode' or something like that, which makes a huge difference ... although it's a bit too radical for me (black background and all that).

    Anyhow, I can understand your anger over this, but be careful. I know a few people who are angry all the time, and it just makes them ill and damages their health.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for your concern, Ralph... (LOL)
    What anger are you talking about?

    Type into Google "weather forecast manchester", and look at the results. Absolutely ludicrous, all of it is almost invisible. This shows you how insane people are nowadays, that this stupid meme has spread into everything, with each 'designer' trying to make things less and less visible, until they achieve their ultimate goal - a clear white screen!

    It is so ridiculous it's hard to believe it's happening. I've contacted several sites whose text was virtually invisible, only to be given a laughable 'We are happy with the look of the site' type reply - after telling them that their text is clearly illegible, clearly breaches the W3C guidelines, and most importantly, clearly breaches the Disability Discrimination Act, which states that websites should make reasonable efforts to ensure they are accessible to people with visual impairments - whereas in these cases, they are making efforts to make them absolutely impossible to read for people with visual impairments, and incredibly difficult to read for people without visual impairments.

    I shouldn't need to use accessibility mode, the problem lies with the cretinous 'designers' who would happily drive off a cliff if everybody else was doing it. I thought they were supposed to design, not copy. Can't they come up with something original, instead of copying yet another site's GREY GREY GREY look?

    Just look at that Google weather result and tell me that isn't ridiculous.

    And can the owners of this forum please explain why the default text colour ISN'T black? How ironic.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    There are some advantages of using grey text over black ... particularly if you go for a dark charcoal shade rather than a light silver shade – it can make text easier to read, particularly for people with dyslexia, and it can appear less threatening than the starkness of black against white.
    Evidence, please? "threatening" - LOL. That damn 'stark' black against white... The colour of text has no effect whatsoever on people with 'dyslexia', since there is no such thing as 'dyslexia' in the first place. I take it you've read the book 'Why children can't read' by Dianne McGuinness, and know what you're talking about here?

    On the other hand, I do completely agree that too many sites go for what they perceive as a trendy route, with the greys far too pale to be read easily.
    Anything other than #000000 is too pale.

    Part of the problem is the different people see a page in different contexts. The age and quality of your monitor plays a role. The ambient lighting around you plays a role. Whether you have any form of anti-aliasing or sub-pixel hinting plays a role. And that's before you even get down to the question of an individual's eyesight, which can create huge problems for some people reading text that has insufficient contrast.
    Which is why they should all be using #000000.

    If designers are used to seeing text render crisply and cleanly on a high quality screen in perfect light conditions, and have 20:20 vision themselves, it needs quite a lot of empathy to come to terms with the need to use dark text.
    Exactly - they lack empathy. They couldn't care less about what their readers feel.
    Why do designers dislike dark text so much? Because a lot of them see text as simply another design element to be manipulated in search of improved aesthetics. Black or very dark text can dominate a page's appearance at the expense of the design features that they have put most of their effort into, so they try to soften it so that the graphics come to the fore.
    Rubbish. They just blindly copy each other, trying to 'one up' each other by making their text lighter and lighter. I see text at #808080 all the time nowadays, ridiculously light. Look at this very website - ridiculously light border lines which only irritate you because you have to look harder to see what you're actually supposed to be looking at -is it a border? Is it the border of this box, or another border around it, etc.etc.

    All of this just proves how ridiculous most people are - they will copy ANYTHING, no matter how stupid it is.

    I'm not saying that all designers are like that – not by a long way. Just that there is a significant minority who have a tendency to put aesthetics ahead of practicality.
    They aren't even making their sites aesthetically pleasing - if I was allowed to, I would link to the work of that excellent web designer I found yesterday - his sites are all beautiful, colourful, no grey text anywhere, everything clear and high contrast.
    Please stop propagating this myth that 'good designs' are something to do with it, they aren't - it's pathetic copying, plain and simple, a total lack of imagination on the part of the designers, and total arrogance too. Not one of them has a good reason for doing it. We always get the old 'dyslexia' nonsense as a 'reason' too. If you want, I can direct you to the first few pages in Dianne McGuinness's book where she proves there is no such thing as dyslexia (i.e. a neurological disorder, i.e. a 'malfunction' of the brain), and shows that poor readers become that way because of the way they are taught, and the way they are trying to read. But I doubt you'll be interested, because those who have the audacity to blame the victims - i.e. to claim that children who can't read well have something wrong with their brains, rather than that they have simply learnt to read the wrong way, will do anything to defend their belief system.

    Rather like the grey text crowd...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ihategreytext View Post
    Anything other than #000000 is too pale.
    I totally understand what you are saying about too many light grays all over the web, but if you are serious about improving things on the web, you need to refine your argument. You are far too sweeping in your statements, which weakens your argument. You write off all graphic designers as being sheep following a trend. Well, to some extent, perhaps, but it's a hopeless generalization. I know graphic designers who use light gray because they like it—it looks good to them. And this is what you need to face: this issue, to some extent, comes down to likes and personal preferences, as much as it involves physical issues.

    Your statement that all text must be #000000 is too absolute, and weakens your argument. For me (and a lot of people I know), black on white text is far too harsh and makes me squint and my eyes water. So too white text on a black background: my eyes just can't handle it. (If I had to choose between black on white or light grey, I would choose light gray, because it's easier for me to read.) So while while black on white may be the best combo for you, you have to face the fact that it's not right for everyone; which is where reasoned argument and compromise comes in. People have done a lot of research into accessibility, and have come up with forumulae that are a useful guide to how contrast affects numbers of people. There are handy websites, and handy formulae if that's your bent, for determining how accessible certain contrasts are—though even these may not take into account a situation like mine, where really strong contrast is also painful to the eye.

    So if you are really serious about improving things on the web, the most useful thing you can do is make more people aware of accessibility and encourage them to take the guidelines more seriously. That would be more useful that ranting about how much you hate gray and insisting that all text be black—which you know if never going to happen, and which isn't reasonable anyway. For me, just bulling back to #222 or similar makes a huge difference, and is perfectly accessible.

    Evidence, please? ... "threatening" ... they lack empathy ... They couldn't care less about what their readers feel.
    Yep, exactly. I should just have quoted you.

    We always get the old 'dyslexia' nonsense as a 'reason' too. ... in Dianne McGuinness's book where she proves there is no such thing as dyslexia ...
    One opinion doesn't prove the issue, I hope you realise. Yes, reading instruction (at least in the English speaking work) is in an execrable state, and it's true that if a kid can't read to some extent it's because he/she hasn't been taught properly ... but there is a limit. Everyone wants a silk purse out of a sow's ear ... but we also know it's not really possible.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ihategreytext View Post
    if I was allowed to, I would link to the work of that excellent web designer I found yesterday - his sites are all beautiful, colourful, no grey text anywhere, everything clear and high contrast.
    If you feel that it strengthens your argument and is relevant to the topic, link to it.
    Mike Swiffin - Community Team Advisor
    Only a woman can read between the lines of a one word answer.....

  16. #16
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    I'm dyslexic; it has little to do with my reading ability, my generic reading skills are hardly affected - short-term memory however is... Low literacy is a completely different topic. The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.

    Scotopic sensitivity syndrome can be induced with; bright white backgrounds and black text, which obviously isn't desirable if you suffer from the condition. Since it's a perceptual disorder and can obviously hinder the individual.

    Text colour that is applied with CSS essentially can be overridden by the UA so can sometimes be considered within the scope of 'reasonable adjustment' unlike hardcoded. Obviously nobody with any professionalism would hard code colour via markup, or for that matter the FONT or presentational attributes, which can be handled via CSS. I'd agree that a lot of sites use low contrast or ridiculously small default text.


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