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Thursday, Sep. 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

Good Eyesight Can Hurt Conversions

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 25th, 2008

I won’t name names, but recently we had a client come back with a new redesign for their website that uses white text on a black background. You might have experienced the same thing at some point. Your team may all agree it looks totally snazzy. But this link is a great illustration of why it’s wrong (please read the entire page until you reach the end, otherwise you won’t get the point).

Your customers’ eyes and your wallet thank you for taking the 3 minutes to read that page.

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Comments (18)

  1. Hello Bryan, great work and thanks a lot for your blog and books.

    I would like to point out that some links to videos on your blog are not working, i really need some pointers on Detail Page Optimization, and could
    not wacth this article in video cast format:
    http://www.grokdotcom.com/2007/08/24/screencast-optimizing-e-commerce-product-pages/

    Is it a problem with the video service? Is there an alternative source for that information?

    Thanks a lot

  2. Felipe,

    Thank you for pointing that out and the kind words. It must be an issue with the video service. I’ll look to see what we can do to replace it in the next couple of weeks. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Best wishes,
    Bryan

  3. Was your client Cnet.com!? I noticed the same issue when they launched their redesign and sent them feedback during their beta, voicing that the black header wasn’t the greatest thing on people’s eyes.

    I truly believe that the larger a company gets, the less common sense is used.

  4. That really is a great demo page. I felt dizzy by the end!

    Red on blue (or vice versa) is awful too.

  5. Dang, that seriously hurt.

  6. I don’t understand people who use white on black or other light colors on dark backgrounds. It is so hard to read and I usually just close the page when I see that sort of set up.

  7. Ouch, that does hurt. OK, point taken, thanks for sharing. Re-design on the way…!

    Yes, that really is a brilliant illustration of the problem.

  8. Awesome. No better way to explain it than show it. I really need to bookmark that page ………. ;)

  9. Great. Specially I guess eye opener for someone who has black background and white font color.

  10. your very next article “Landing Page Optimization: Layout and Design Elements” leads to…. a page with black text on a blue background. almost unreadable, or maybe i was still dizzy from your (very good) example of why not to use white text on a dark background.

    or was that another example of what not to do?

  11. Craig,

    Unfortunately, that is a template setup by GotoMeeting. I wish I had even more control over it.

    Bryan

  12. I have seen quite a few white on black, red on blue, and other techniques that people think are creative when they are first making them. Eventually you realize people want to be able to read your content :)

  13. white on black very rarely works for sites. Some “theme” sites like a game or something can SOMETIMES work, but it’s really just hard onthe eyes. If your design truly insists on using white on black, use a grey instead.

  14. I agree, white type on a black background is hard to read, ugly, even gothic. So how come so many clients request it when having their website designed? I think they believe it looks “creative.” Ugh!

    Susan

  15. [...] on a white background looks awesome, unless you begin to read it. My eyes still hurt. Discoverd via Bryan Eisenberg at Grokdotcom, please read the entire page in order to get the point. Now think about this in a commercial sense: [...]

  16. wow i feel sick now

  17. I think it’s been well proven that black on white is easier on the eyes than pretty much anything else. When I see a website designed with light on dark, I know the skills of the designer are in question and am already less likely to purchase or continue on the site.

    I think the only legit light on dark sites anyways are gamer and goth sites right?

  18. When I see a website designed with light on dark, I know the skills of the designer are in question and am already less likely to purchase or continue on the site.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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