Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Web Hints – Black Background Websites

chris black and white for blog In the same way that I’m against over and unintelligent use of flash, I’m against black background websites in general, for several reasons.

They are harder to read, and therefore the overall usability is compromised

They are much more tiring to browse,

Pictures simply do not look as good as on a white background, because the black tends to suck up the colours

They are very hard to do well, and by well I mean extremely well.

There are without question some very beautiful black based sites (and some exceptionally expensive ones) but designing a black based website is another of those web designers’ paradises, where they can experiment at your expense, and it’s impossible to evaluate properly, if your site doesn’t do as well as you expect it to, the true reason unless you invest in a proxy server and some A/B testing which, let’s face it, is the only real way to get at the truth. Needless to say if you have a limited budget you’re unlikely to be going to do that, your black site will be an experiment, and you’ll be dipping your toes into water that may turn out to be a little bit too hot to handle.

I’m sure people are going to come back at me and tell me about all the successful black sites – please do. I always take a guide from the US, as they are the ‘tried and tested’ market, and with the exception of Abercrombie (where we really don’t care because we go to look at the pics and buy the tshirts and they could have a green or purple site and we’d still buy from them) and Abercrombie’s related websites, almost all the large US web stores have beautifully designed white based sites. Because they work best.

So if you’re thinking of having a website revamp, and your developer is over the moon about black, be very careful. It can work if you’re someone clever such as Debenhams, who simply use it as a frame, but be very, very careful if someone tries to persuade you to go the whole hog particularly if you don’t have oodles to spend. Give me a call before you commit, please.

Back to Sunday and apart from making two meringues I haven’t yet started and it’s forecast to rain and I have that tiny curl of panic starting. Nor have I made my friend's pesto and I have no doubt that if I get it wrong I'll be in trouble. Joke. I don’t panic – as long as there’s enough booze everyone will have a good time…………won’t they?

The daughter, in Oz, has had a wonderful time and is almost off to New Zealand. I gather that the backpacking days are over to her relief, and she’s planning to base herself (with her friend), at my friend’s house and will probably not budge, even if it’s suggested, until her flight home, when she expects me to meet her at 5am in the morning. No I’m not looking forward to that, but I am looking forward to seeing her after four months.

astley earrings astley ring

I spent yesterday morning at online designer jewellery retailer Astley Clarke, interviewing Bec Clarke for a newsletter and, er, inevitably browsing. Silly me I walked in there not expecting to shop and walked out with a very pretty pair of earrings and only half the information I was after, so I’ll be catching up by email. I have the little blue box beside me on my desk. Oh what it is to be a shopaholic – although I have to confess that the ones I fell in love with first nearly made me faint when I learnt the price (and they’re so much prettier than the picture, as they’re moonstone and shimmery) and the diamond Forget-me-not ring…………………………. anyway I restrained myself and didn’t do too much damage, and I'm going to save my new earrings for my next trip away.