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When Opposites Don’t Attract

“Opposites attract”, a phrase that says “people who are very different from each other are often attracted to each other”, it might be good in the eye to see these lovers happy together in real life. But not when it comes to websites with pure black texts and a pure white background. It may look beautiful as it would stand out a lot due to their opposing contrast, but this might also be a potential harm to the eye.


People experiencing eye strain while working on their computer or smart phones might just be some of the victims of this color combination. One may not feel it right away during their first minute of working on computers, but upon reading paragraphs with pure black texts for over a longer time, he/she would start to feel funny feelings from his eyes. Based on the article from UX Movement, the reason behind this is because pure white has a 100% brightness while pure black has 0%. With that great difference in color brightness, it develops an intense light level that over-stimulates and causes the eye to adjust and adapt harder to the color when reading text.



An example that illustrates this concept is when a bright light is turned on in a dark room. Such a sudden change in light conditions is harsh to the eyes. But if we turn on a dim light in a dark room, it can adapt to the change easier because the retina isn’t overstimulated by such a sharp increase in contrast.


How to prevent this?

Most designers know about this matter already and more than half of them have already made, not using pure black or white, their regular work habit which is a very big help for a lot of people all around the internet.

Simply avoid using the color #000000 (hex code for pure black) when it’s to be paired with #FFFFFF (hex code for pure white) on the same place of their design or canvas. Instead, they use a dark gray color to pair with the pure white, or use an off-white color to pair with the black.


See example below.


This kind of technique may or may not be good for others, some may not approve of this, and it is not mandatory for every designer to follow this as well. This may only be a guideline, but it will benefit your audiences and readers more reading stamina and less damage to their eyes. Complicated or simple, a good design must be friendly to the eye.


Stay healthy and creative everyone!



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Written By:

Hubert