This website uses a tiled grey background that looks good on brighter screens, but too dark for 'standard' Internet brightness/contrast.

The less bright one is obviously more muted and the colours do not look good, but we can't control what brightness people use and I'd like some opinions on whether to account for darker screens or lighter.

Obviously lighter ones can be harsher on the eyes, so we don't want to blind people, but do want the colours and textures to look as they should.

If we should account for darker screens, then we'll have a lighter background.

Any ideas appreciated.

  • I just wanted to add that you have zero control over a user's display so you have to shoot for the median, which sucks. People do the craziest things to monitor settings and get used to how out of 'normal' they are.
    – TunaMaxx
    Jan 17, 2014 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


Some of this is subjective, but if you want to make sure you don't cross the line into having text which risks being unreadable, you can use the W3C's AA or AAA accessibility guidelines.

The easy way to do this is by plugging the colours you use into a tool like snook.ca's colour contrast checker.

According to that, the colours used on the 'grey on grey' box do cross the line and don't meet accessibility standards for readability at AA or AAA level unless the text was at least 18pt.

enter image description here

So a good next step would be to find the functional middle ground between the grey-on-grey you want, and the colour contrast needed to pass at least AA accessibility.

For example, after a little playing with the "Value" sliders, something like this might work for you:

enter image description here

  • Thanks for the answer and links, it is subjective I agree. It also makes a difference when users switch from white-based backgrounds to darker ones and I think that's where my main concern is. I don't really want them having to adjust their eyes after viewing lighter bgs. The snook.ca colour contrast tool said it was fine based on the corresponding bg colour of #DBDBDB at it's darkest, so it's technically OK, but I'll have a browse of others too and try to be objective. Thanks again.
    – uname12
    Jan 17, 2014 at 14:11

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