Increasing Text Color Contrast Improves Readability

Recently, I helped a friend with her website.  I had just spent the whole day staring at a computer screen, and my eyes were tired. So the first thing I noticed was the contrast between the body text and the background…or rather, the lack thereof.

The page looked something like this:

An example of low contrast text.
This text isn’t very easy to read, especially if you have a vision impairment.

I have made many similar color decisions myself in the past.  When I first started making websites, choosing the colors was my favorite part. The only criterion I used to decide colors for text and background was, “does it look pretty?”

What I didn’t realize at that point was that color choice can make a website difficult to read, and even exclude users from being able to view a website at all.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)  has published a set of standards for web content, called the the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG for short). Within this document are standards for just about every aspect of web content, including colors, images, video, text, and documents.

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