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Re: website: background color in css

From: Michal Suchanek
Subject: Re: website: background color in css
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 23:07:33 +0100

2009/11/16 Arne Babenhauserheide <arne_bab@web.de>:
> Am Montag, 16. November 2009 11:34:22 schrieb Michal Suchanek:
>> > If you set the background, you also have to set all other colors, else
>> > the custom user color for a visited link could be invisible.
>> Yes, that's how things work. Why is it so hard to accept for you?
> I think the reason is simply that it's damn far from how I learned webdesign.
> Instead of the smooth learning curve you get by defining more and more aspects
> of your page bit by bit while you learn more about webdesign, it's "don't
> touch it or do all at once".

It's not all or none. You can use different text style and size,
alignment, spacing, borders, ... and colors.

But whenever you touch an aspect of the site, be it colors, text
style, or anything else you must ensure that it works as intended with
various reasonable defaults. This is not limited to colors.

For example, if your browser uses a sans-serif font face as the
default and you use a serif face for emphasis you should ensure that
the body font is sans-serif, even if the default in some browsers
might be a serif font.

And best of all, neither the colors nor the font will be visible in
most text-only browsers.

> That even goes for "when you use a picture you have to define all colors".

And how do you make a picture without defining all colors? Even if you
use transparency the transparent picture blends well with some
subspace of possible backgrounds, not any possible color you put it
on. It gives you more freedom in styling the background in different
ways but you still should specify the background that goes with the

The ultimate here are SVG pictures that can be styled with CSS to
match your site style completely but few browsers support them well at
this time.

> And that's something I dislike a lot.
> It's prefectionism which makes life harder for everyone who writes a website.

Yes, as I said, making things correctly might seem too extreme to some.

>> If a tool allows breaking something is the tool inherently broken?
> No. If a tool makes it far easier to break things than to do them right, then
> it's broken.
> Or the definition of what is broken is broken.
>> A simple pencil allows you to write poor novels, incorrect equations,
>> even misspelled and unreadable words!
> The function of the pencil is not to write a novel, but to draw a line.
> If the pencil makes it much easier to cut the paper than to draw a line, then
> it is broken for most uses (there are special cases where these kinds of
> pencils are useful).
>> 95% users don't know how to change their default page colors.
>> If you want your pages to work for the remaining few that do know how
>> to set the default colors and use the feature you can't just expect
>> that they will use the same color as you.
> I don't. Instead I cycled through the default KDE colorschemes to test the
> colors - but I didn't get one with green background...

Surprise. I am not using KDE, and I am not using a default color scheme either.

>> Unreadable text also hurts, and that's what I experience on pages like
>>  yours.
> So it's hurt in either way.
> If I do it "right", I hurt your eyes with a bright background, and if I do it
> "wrong" I hurt your eyes with mismatching colors.

But if you do it right I can at least easily glance through a few
sentences of your page before I decide to leave or force the page into

> If I don't use custom color at all, the page please me.
>> If you want your pages to be usable by people with different
>> preferences you cannot impose your preferences on them, even
>> partially.
> Wait. That means, their color code should dominate in every case. Then they
> can just ignore any author colors and enforce their color settings.

I would like if more pages like  that existed.

Unfortunately, most web authors want to set off their web site by
choosing their own color theme for it.

Nonetheless, if they do that correctly I can read their site and tell
it apart from other sites at a glance, even at the cost that the color
theme might not be one I prefer. When the site in question is
something I am going to use more often and does not offer an
alternates style I like better I can always use options my browser has
for restyling sites.

>> > ...and lose the wide range of options you have when you use colors for
>> > different parts of the text. Since people began using different colors
>> > for titles, the web looks far more friendly to me.
>> There are many options at your disposal but you want to stick to the
>> one that does not work. Your choice.
> Which options are there despite
> * No custom color
> * One or several completely defined colorsets

Yes, that are color options. A site is not just colors, you know.

>> > Or seen from a different angle: browsers aren't built to handle efficient
>> > colorchanges (allow authors to set one color by only using the custom
>> > color if it mixes well with the other colors used for the site).
>> No, it 's the HTML standard which is unfitting for such use of color.
>> The browsers can only work with that.
>> And I do not see an easy way of standardizing that text should always
>> be readable but it also has to follow both web author's and user's
>> colors at the same time.
> I see a way through priorizing: Readability first, then author color then user
> color.

How do you define readability so that it can be prescribed by a standard?

The readability of a text does not depend on color contrast only, it
is affected by text size, monitor quality and settings, ambient light,
reader condition, etc.

>> > In the beginning there was a standard colorscheme (white background, blue
>> > links, black text). At some point graphic browsers added custom
>> > stylesheets, so I as user could select to see pages with the colors I
>> > chose.
>> defaults. At he time before IE dominance it was IE+Netscape dominance
>> and the defaults of Netscape Navigator differed only in the background
>> color: it was gray.
> And now it's IE + Firefox + WebKit(safari/Opera/...), all of which use similar
> defaults.

The defaults don't depend on the web rendering library used. They are
set in the topmost part of the application which is subject to change
between browsers based on the same rendering library. Some might even
attempt to set the defaults based on the system color theme.

>> My color scheme works with about half the sites. The sites that are
>> styled correctly.
> So you define "right" as "50% do it that way and it works with my setting"?

No, I define "right" as "50% which works with any setting".

As I use defaults different from those of the web designers that don't
care to write correct style sheets most broken styles sheets don't
work for me.

>> No. I am using dark gray-green background and most of the text on your
>> pages is quite hard to read.
> That one wasn't in my test cases. Can you give me the colorcode of the
> background?

I can give you my color theme but there's bound to be more possible
color combinations that you did not test. Good luck with testing all
themes ever published.

*background: #2f4f4f
*foreground: #f5deb3

It's based on a theme I downloaded somewhere so it's not something I
just made up. For some reason the theme was named thEmacs.



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