White-on-black or black-on-white text for dark site design?

I’m trying to decide on my site layout and think it will be something along a dark, modern and sophisticated design such as this [URL=“http://www.webdesignserved.com/”]this and [URL=“http://www.jonahl.com/”]this example to name a few.

However, as my site will contain a lot of text I’m wondering if it’ll be a mistake to have people read light gray/white text on a black/darkish background or if I should just stick to the traditional paper like format of black text on a white background? I have a feeling that the latter is a better solution, but I also believe the high contrast of a white text area breaks the design. What’s the general concensus on text color/background?

Of the three sites you posted, only the second one has adequate contrast. The first and last have extremely poor contrast with dark grey text on a dark background, so in terms of accessibility, they do fail.

This topic has come up a few times in this forum and elsewhere, and the consensus always is that a large percentage of users prefer dark text on a white background and a few say they can better read when the text is light and the background dark.

combination depends largely on site niche and content.
if you have less text content, more of images white on black might work well. and vice versa.
i have done some sites in both ways, they come out pretty good IMO.

It shouldn’t make a difference for most people. The biggest issue with readability is contrast, so whether you have black-on-white or white-on-black, you’re good.

Some people say dark text on a light background is easier to read, which might have something to do with the fact that books have worked that way for hundreds of years.

However, then there’s the issue of light backgrounds being hard on the eyes. I don’t know about you, but when I open a new tab with all the lights off, I’m immediately blinded by a white screen. This isn’t an issue with books because they don’t have backlights.

The contrast is high enough either way. It’s more about image, honestly. Dark backgrounds can look less professional and more ‘edgy’. Lighter backgrounds represent professionalism, openness, and positivity. That’s why most sites that represent a cause or organization have a light background with dark text. This includes websites about ‘going green’, which is ironic considering a site with a black background would use less energy.

I think you’ll find that if you present 12pt text on both white on black and vice versa - I think you’ll find that what on black is harder to read and you have to increase the size and thickness of your text to improve readability. Whilst kohoutek said the second site is the only one with high enough contrast in terms of accessibility, I would say it’s contrast is too high to be comfortably read. So there’s a midpoint you have to achieve.

In general I would use a light background for a primarily text based website and dark background for media. One dark website that reads well for text is http://daringfireball.net/ - it uses a grey rather than a jet black which makes things more comfortable to read. I’m not sure how it does on the contrast test.

I’ve always found this free tool invaluable for checking that colour combinations have sufficient contrast.