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Sign Of A Flatline

just a little thought

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as an infrequent reader i am aware that this isn't the biggest complaint in the world and there is a chance it has already been addressed BUT:

i have problems reading a multitude of stories on this website merely because of the colour of the text in conjunction with the background

for example if a story is a black background with white text i can't read it without my eyes hurting, while i'm aware that there are ways around this as a read i feel it should be more the writers job to make their stories as readable as possible. While some people will have varying successes with different font and background combinations i think this is something that should be considered when looking at creating a home page....

that is all i have to say xD sorry if it wasted your time

Pads

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as an infrequent reader i am aware that this isn't the biggest complaint in the world and there is a chance it has already been addressed BUT:

i have problems reading a multitude of stories on this website merely because of the colour of the text in conjunction with the background

for example if a story is a black background with white text i can't read it without my eyes hurting, while i'm aware that there are ways around this as a read i feel it should be more the writers job to make their stories as readable as possible. While some people will have varying successes with different font and background combinations i think this is something that should be considered when looking at creating a home page....

that is all i have to say xD sorry if it wasted your time

Pads

I am sorry you feel that way. As the person responsible for the appearance of the site, I guess I'm the appropriate person to reply.

While I also suffer minor vision problems, I find black text on a white background to be extremely tedious to read. Nifty Arvhives present their stories in this way. At AwesomeDude the authors seldom set up their stories themselves... only a few actually do.

I might suggest that if you want a standard black on white text that you copy and paste the stories you wish to read onto Microsoft Word or Notepad and print them out. Or you might try a text to voice program such as TextAloud to listen to the stories. Most of our vision impaired readers do that or use even more elaborate programs which they get free or at a discount on a doctor's prescription.

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Actually, I do pay close attention to this. I try to make the font big enough to read without a lot of individual adjustment, I use a font that isn't boring, like Curier, and I try hard to use colors that complement and contrast for ease of the eyes and easy assimilation of the words.

So it's probably unfair to assume none of us pay any attention to it. I think as a lot, writers tend to be fussy people who pay attention to details. This is certainly something I pay attention to.

But I'm happy to see feedback. It's the way we know what to work on to improve.

Cole

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It's funny how often this subject comes up in various websites, forums, message boards, etc. Text and background colour on computer screens seems to be a bit of a hot button topic for people.

Not surprisingly, a fair bit of solid research has been done on this exact subject. Here's some links on these studies:

http://www.aprompt.ca/WebPageColors.html

http://www.stcsig.org/usability/topics/readability.html

http://www.writer2001.com/colwebcontrast.htm

To summarize the general findings, the answer for what is most readable is:

It depends.

Yeah. Figures, right? But it does. Here's a bit more detailed answer: Different people have different preferences, some like light backgrounds and some like darker. Common elements however for almost everyone are that the contrast is sufficient between text and background, and not colours that clash horribly with each other.

More important seems to be font selection and size.

So I suppose in the end it's very much a matter of preference and taste.

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Very wise words from Gee above. In a perfect world, the board would have different "skins" available to allow viewing white-text-on-black screen (default), black-text-on-white-screen, or maybe even some alternative like dark blue on light gray or some other lower-contrast situation. I don't know if that's possible with the bulletin board software, but I know this can be done with VBulletin and a few others.

I've often wondered if it were possible to embed downloadable files of the stories -- even as .txt or PDF files -- to allow people to read them on alternative devices like iPads and Kindles. Unfortunately, it would probably be a lot of trouble for The Dude, who already works too much as it is to keep this place going.

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I must say, I've never had that problem here. I have tried to read stories on sites that use different background schemes other than solid colors. Some have use variagated colors and some have used pictures. If I come across a story formatted like that, I don't even try to read it. I've tried, but anything other than a solid color background is too distracting and difficult to read. You wouldn't believe the headaches I've had from trying to read some of those stories. Sure, it may be a good story, but it's not worth the healthy dose of perscription meds it takes to knock out one of my headaches! Dude deserves a big thanks for making this site so easy to read. So, THANK YOU DUDE!!! :icon_thumleft:

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The forum software can take different themes or skins, such as this light text on dark page theme, or one of the usual dark text on light page themes. The trick would be making sure both themes are customized to the site's needs. But there is one fly in the ointment: Whenever a member sets a text color other than the default, that's stored with his/her post. Unfortunately, there's no good way to convert all those. Someone skilled with database coding would have to do it, and the results would be kinda freaky. What do I mean? For instance, any very light text, including yellow or orange, looks fine on a very dark background, but on a light background? Whew. Another for instance, solid royal blue, #0000FF and darker, look very dark to me against a dark background like this. What I'm saying is that it's very possible to add another theme and allow members to choose which theme they want, but it has some inherent issues if you want to switch from light to dark and back. The real issues are (1) customizing a second theme and keeping both in sync; and (2) how many people will actually use another theme besides the default the forum uses?

I did a small, informal survey a few months back, because I really wanted to use a light text on dark page type theme for a story. I wasn't prepared for the responses: there were only a couple of people who liked that idea (without seeing an example) out of over a dozen replies. Yet a lot of sites, especially for audio and video, or science fiction, or various other things, prefer it for good reasons. -- And yes, there have been legibility studies that support both sides.

Some rules of thumb:

* Don't make the text and page too low in contrast or too close in hues or saturation. There needs to be enough separation, or readability suffers drastically and people won't bother reading.

* Backgrounds behind text can't be too busy / loud / complicated, or people will have trouble reading. It's a special case of the contrast mentioned above.

* Text on a dark background needs to have enough "weight" to the font so it doesn't wash out / clog up in print. Designers are supposed to know this and use bolder and thicker fonts. The key word there is "supposed."

* Text size matters if your vision is not perfect. -- A lot of designers now don't think of this because (1) they are young and have good vision; (2) they are used to their screens and light tables and don't have experience "out in the wild" with how the products are used. (That's not quite true. They just aren't thinking about it and weren't trained well enough.)

* There are more rules of thumb that come in handy, but as you can see, I've already used more than two thumbs. Possibly, I'm more related to a certain simian than I thought. Hmm....

It is possible to use a "style switcher" where you click on a link or button to switch stylesheets, but that requires readers to have JavaScript turned on, for instance, or else a link that does something fancy with PHP, or else (eek) two actual versions of each page. It's possible to provide an alternate stylesheet (or a few) to handle, for example, color and light / dark schemes or text size, or whatever else the designer feels like providing. I'm not too sure how common that is and how well browsers now support it. The last time I looked into it, it was more trouble than warranted. But that may have changed. I'll put it on my "How do you do that fancy cool feature?" list. -- Meanwhile, I can run an experiment or two to see what might be doable without too much mess and headache for The Powers That Be, i.e., his Dudeness and any loyal minions.

Related: To answer Pecman's question about viewing on an iPad or other tablet or on a smart phone (iPhone, Android, etc.) -- Yes, you can already do that without any extra bells and whistles, as long as you are surfing the web from your handy pad / phone / gadget. If you want to view those later offline, you'd need to save the complete web page. See your browser's File menu. For convenient viewing on a Kindle or other e-reader device, yes, you'd want a handy version of the file, either .txt or one of the ebook formats ( .epub, .mobi, and so on), or a .pdf. In my opinion, the .pdf files don't keep enough in actual text or images; the files tend to glomp too much together. -- I have been looking at how to do ebook formats off and on, but I have been busy with HTML5 and CSS3 coolness (and extreme weirdness) ...and real life in general is kicking my butt lately besides. -- Converting files to offer as mini ebooks would be doable, if you have enough volunteer trained web monkeys. This particular web monkey (not affiliated with the site by that name, by the way) is, as I said, trying to learn "a bunch of new stuff" to keep up and be marketable again. (Yes, buy me, I'm moderately inexpensive and I will do ...well, a lot of unspecified things... for gainful employment. My cats and I like to eat!)

Short version: There are solutions out there to readability problems, but they each have a few built-in hurdles to get past. Yes, some readers have trouble with black text on a white page on screen, while others have trouble with the opposite, and still others need certain contrast levels, while others have colorblind issues, and some (like me) need large print, while still others need text to speech screen reader software because they can't see well enough. (I'm vision-impaired / legally blind; I get it about those kinds of problems.)

I can help out if I know what to do and how to do it. Figuring out something brand new can be tricky, these days, if your resources are limited to self-teaching. I'm not as readily available as I used to be, but I do check in as often as I can, and I do get email if anyone sends any. (Ugh, spam is not good.) Sadly, I haven't gotten any personal email in...a very long time...other than a very few people who give me a shout once in a blue moon.

The Dude is a good guy. He's not a techie web genius, but that's not his fault. I'm not the guru web genius I'd like to be either. I'm nearly all self-taught. -- Dude tries his best to give people what they want for basically no price of admission, and that is one heckuva big thing. Dude does have other things he does with his time, like working and feeding his cats and searching for that elusive boyfriend. Well, I'm presuming about that last one, I have no idea, really. Dude does a good job, and he'll try to do what he can, but he needs help in suggestions, comments, input, questions, and plain old information, so he can know what we readers want and need. -- One way to get what you want is to say what you need and describe the problem and desired outcome as best as you can, so that Dude (or his loyal minions) can figure out what the heck you want and need, and how many people need it, in order to provide a solution.

Hmm...style switchers and alternate stylesheets for modern browsers.... Providing for e-readers and formatting for ebooks.... Hmmm.... Much to think about.... I wonder if it's now as easy with another stylesheet as they were claiming a few months back....

No, I haven't slept much the past few days, and no, no substances (other than sugar and caffeine) are involved. That and general weirdness of life.

Kudos to Dude, and those of us with a techie bent to our brains (what little we've got) will put our thinking caps on. Zzzzz.... :)

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Most browsers allow you to increase the font size. In firefox it's ctrl plus + to make text bigger, ctrl plus - to make is smaller, and ctrl plus 0 to get it back to its original size. Also, you can select all the text which inverts it - on this page it makes it blue out of white.

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Most browsers allow you to increase the font size. In firefox it's ctrl plus + to make text bigger, ctrl plus - to make is smaller, and ctrl plus 0 to get it back to its original size. Also, you can select all the text which inverts it - on this page it makes it blue out of white.

Also, most browsers will either have a built-in mode or allow you to install an extension or add-on that will reverse the colors for you with a click of a button. Often called "night-mode" or something similar.

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