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Easy Furniture Web Tip #89 - Gray Font Matters: Should you follow the crowd?

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By Katherine Andes

Over the past year, I’ve noticed a trend in web design: Gray fonts for web copy.

Some of the pages designed with gray fonts look very nice. They are spaced well and use a font designed for the web. They are pretty easy to read.

But I wonder if they would be even easier to read if the designer had used a black font.

I did a little of my own research and compared some web pages that had similar looks but one with a gray font and one with a black font.

To my eye, the black was easier to read. Granted, this was not a scientific test.

Still many sites I see with gray fonts are definitely not easier to read. Especially lighter gray fonts on dark gray backgrounds!

I’m just highly suspicious whenever I see a trend that looks like all the designers are jumping on a bandwagon.

I also look for guidance from the print world. Heresy, I know.

But print publishers have been dealing with font colors for hundreds of years. I think they know what they are doing in that regard. Rarely, does a book publisher choose to go with any colored font for its main text.

I did do a bit of googling to get the rationale behind gray font usage. Best I can tell, advocates maintain that the contrast of black and white on the monitors is too high and causes readability problems. Maybe. But, at this point, it doesn’t appear that there are sufficient studies to back this up.

For now, I suggest that if you have a designer who wants to use gray text, have him or her publish a couple of pages, one with black and one with gray text. Then have different people read them side-by-side and tell you which font color is easier on their eyes.

You can do a Gray Font vs. Black Font test right now by clicking here. Let me know what you think.

Easy Furniture Web Tip #89: Gray text is all the rage with web designers these days. Before using gray, be sure to think it through to ensure it’s right for your site.

Katherine Andes is a consultant who specializes in writing custom content for key web pages, including search engine optimization (SEO) — especially in the home improvement market. You can phone her at 559.589.0379 or email at Kathy@AndesAndAssociates.com.

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