Thursday, February 2, 2012

Readable Text Please

I salute Contrast Rebellion! There are far too many web sites with low contrast text or way too small text or both. Gray text on a gray background is not good design.

Join with Contrast Rebellion and build readable web sites, tutorials and blogs. Black is a perfectly fine font color! Gray on Gray is not.

So as a reader of sites not designed for clear easy readability, what can you do besides suffer?

For a while, I was taking to "printing" web articles to PDF and reading them in Evince Doc Viewer with the inverse color settings to get nice white text on a very dark background.

But then I discovered two add-ons for Firefox where you can thwart the bad site design chosen by the creator - No Squint and Color That Site!. The latter is more sophisticated (and has a nice demo video), but I found No Squint to be more reliable. For example on the Gray-on-gray example above that I complained about, Color That Site! had no effect, but No Squint turned it into a reading pleasure - compare and contrast the images below.

Before No Squint

After Applying No Squint ... Aaaahhh

In fact, No Squint works great on my blog too. If you want to view this blog entry with a black background and white text, it's a few mouse clicks and then it's just you, the darkness and the picture of ThornyDev, the Australian Thorny Devil, to keep you company.

For Chrome, I didn't find anything as nice as No Squint, but the Change Colors extension can do something similar.


  1. Hi Michael,
    i am the author of the Add-on "Color That Site!".

    Thank you for pointing out an error in my add-on. ;-)
    Technically it fails when trying to override some "extreme use" of css inline styles on the "gray on gray" site resulting in an invalid css with no effect.
    I've learned something new :-) and will fix the error in the next release (wich will then be 0.15).

    Anyway i think "No Squint" does a better job here. It seems better suited to your task.

    1. @Michael Donning - Glad I was able to find a bug for you :-) Thanks for the note here. I still have Color That Site! installed and plan to use it on occasion, as it is quite amazingly sophisticated. In fact, I imagine one could use it to help with one's own site design, rather than adjusting the design of other sites. For example, the image "inversions" and changes possible are quite impressive.

      Also many people have complained about the new Java7 javadoc formatting. I find it has too much of the gray-on-gray feel. I currently just blast it to stark colors with No Squint, but then I lose clearly seeing some of the links. I suspect Color That Site! will be a better way to finesse it to looking right, but haven't done so yet - on my todo list.

      Thanks for such a powerful tool.