Community Central
Community Central

Some of your readers don't see your wiki the same way you do. They may have contrast sensitivity – trouble reading text that has low contrast with the background color underneath it. While they may be able to make out black letters on a white background, other color combinations are much harder to read – and can even induce headaches.

Luckily, you can help them out. Obey web contrast standards and more people will be able to stay on your wiki longer.

Contrast cones

Though a perfect example of high contrast, you can achieve good contrast levels for your readers with tens of thousands of color combinations.

A problem for all your readers[]

There are many eye maladies that can keep people away from your wiki. Glaucoma, retinopathy[1] and astigmatism are just a few. These don't affect only people of older age, so keep in mind that readers of any wiki might have visual impairments and disabilities.

Yet it's not just the visually impaired who benefit from higher-contrast designs. Bad color combinations can, by themselves, induce eyestrain and discomfort, making even those with great eyesight turn away from your wiki.[2]

Contrast ratios[]

So how do you get higher contrast onto your wiki? Easy: contrast ratios (CR). There's some pretty fancy math behind these web-standard ratios, but mastering the math is not essential to making your wiki better.

Readily available tools[]

A color contrast analyser demonstrated

All you need is an easy-to-use tool called a contrast analyzer. There is a ton of them out there to help you. Colorable is demonstrated in the video above, but there are others, such as:

Adhering to standards[]

There are two web standards: AA and AAA. All contrast analyzers will make it obvious when you hit these targets. Accept no less than the AA contrast ratio between your background and text colors.[3] Try for the higher AAA standard whenever you can, so that you can help a wider range of readers.[4]

To pass the AA standard you should also pay attention to the contrast of graphic elements, such as icons, required to understand the wiki content.[5] They should be easy to see, like the text, or else some readers may lose the context or other valuable information.

Size matters[]

AA Large

This combination only barely passes AA, and then only for large text. You should not use combinations like this for your normal article text.

Bigger letters don't need super-high contrast ratios to be easily readable. For that reason, you can usually express a little more creative freedom with section headers than you can with your normal article text.

Generally, contrast analysers will tell you whether your achieved CR only applies to large text. If it doesn't say large, then it typically means the CR applies to both large and regular text.

But your wordmark typically has no minimum CR; it's too big and too stylised. That doesn't mean you should forget contrast altogether. A logo that's white will get lost on a white background. But if you're really set on using white-on-white, just throw some darker borders or shadows around it.

Best practices[]

Here are a few best practices that will help you achieve the goal of adhering to the W3C standards.

  • Please at least hit AA for your normal body copy – but try to get to AAA if you can.
  • Make sure you're reading your CR analyser correctly. Match the ratio with the text size in which you're interested. It does your readers no good to have a color combination that works at 18px when you're examining the situation at 11px.
  • Don't combine colors that are (even nearly) opposite from each other on the color wheel. Particularly bad combinations? Red-on-green, cyan-on-red, green-on-magenta, red-on-blue, blue-on-yellow, and their reverses.[6]

Following these tips will help more people comfortably see your wiki – and therefore stay on it longer!

See also[]

Related topics here at Fandom[]

Around the web[]


Further help and feedback[]