My Cyclist

Computer Workstation Ergonomics should not be colour blind!

While we like to see it in terms of, 'Black and White', it may well be that, 'Yellow and Blue', is better.

I don't like SA, I love SA!

This is my 50th blog and it is appropriate that it should be related to computing, albeit within the context of the user-interface. Twenty years ago when I started using a colour monitor, I used several applications that placed yellow text onto a blue background. I rather liked that arrangement and subsequently used it myself. It never occurred to me back then to think about why I might have preferred it.

As I understand it, the colour and intensity of the screen's backgound should match that of the screens surroundings. If you are working i a well lit office with white walss and light curtains, then a white background on your computer screen is a good choice. If you then work at home in the evening in a room that is not nearly as bright, then a darker background with a lighter font would be more appropriate.

In my office my computer screen backed onto a window that I had lined with heavy plastic sheeting that was siler on the outside and blue on the inside. The silver was there to repel the afternoon sun that would have made my workplace rather uncomfortable. I am not sure why the other side was blue, but I guess it probably explains why I preferred a blue background on my computer screen.

What about e-reader screens? Well e-readers such as the Kindle, actually require a light source to be present. This is because these e-readers do not emit light in the same manner as computer screens do. If they are to be read in a dark environment, they require an external light source to be present. LED lamps that clip onto these e-readers are available for exactly this purpose. Tablets screens generally behave like computer screens. They do emit light and can thus be read in a dark environment, but probaly not for nearly as being self illuminating, they drain their batteries more rapidly.

I recently acquired a Galaxy Nexus 7 and I have been using it together with the Kindle Android application to read a book. I generally read in the early morning before sunrise in a room that is not all that well lit and I was soon troubled by the black text on a white background and also by reflections. That lead me to switching, first to white text on a black background and then to for me the difference is marked.

I was reminded of this difference again when I set up my previous blog. That prompted me to redo the previous blog as version Blue Background, using yellow text on a blue background. I like to think the latter is better. I am of course not the first person to notice this phenomenon and thought I would write about it as I do not believe many folk are aware that the choice foreground and background colours used for presentation of text to be read on a computer screen matters.

The choice of the two (should be complementary) colours is also a major issue, and has not been dealt with here. Now read some of the references and put paid to your doubts.

The font that is being used also plays a role.

The environment also plays a part. It would seem that black on white is best in a bright lightly coloured environment, as there is less contrast between what one sees on the screen relative to the perceived surroundings. Conversely the reverse is probably true at night.

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