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Color schemes and contrast

by | 29/08/2019 | Accessibility

Some people prefer a dark color scheme, some people prefer a light color scheme. And some people are just weird (people just like me).  More and more Microsoft and third party software provides the option to have a dark color mode and a light color mode. As I teased in the 2nd sentence: some people are just weird (like me), I point that fact due to my autism that of course is also a disability. Most of the time I prefer the color scheme that is the basic and first color scheme of the software application. There is a special part in my brain telling me that this is the preferred layout- scheme by the developer team. For me it sounds irreligious to change this color scheme. It can take weeks or months of worrying if I should switch the color scheme. Of course in this timespan I have to learn myself that the developer team wanted to give me the choice, otherwise the option wouldn’t be in the product.

Since I am working in accessibility I talk to a lot of people with disabilities about their preferred color scheme. Most of the people with autism prefer a dark color scheme and most of the people with learning disabilities (in the past I used the term intellectual disabilities) prefer the light color scheme.

People with autism are telling me that the dark color scheme limits incentives from the outer world. incentives from the outer world can hurt people with autism. In this example it’s a visual incentive and it can hurt the eyes of the person. Some people with autism really feel physical pain due to the incentives.

I also hear that the dark color scheme is easier for the mind. Some people have headache with bright screen light and with a dark color scheme you limit the screen light.

If I talk about people with learning disabilities the situation is reversed. Most of the users with learning disabilities prefer a light color scheme. This is because it’s the color scheme as closest to the ‘normal-paper-analog-world’. The more similarities between the analog paper world and the digital world, the easier it seems to be for this people.

Let’s talk about my preferred color scheme. Most of the time I prefer a light color scheme. In the beginning of this post I talked about the irreligious fact to change the color scheme. I changed the color scheme for some applications: Visual Studio Code, and Microsoft Learn.

Visual Studio Code with an open YAML File. Visual Studio Code has the light color scheme in this picture.

Visual Studio Code has as default the dark color scheme  I changed it after a long time of worrying to the light color scheme. I made this choice for 2 reasons:

  • 1st of all I prefer the light color scheme.
  • 2nd for me it more aligns to the Microsoft Visual Studio experience

The other application is Microsoft Learn, here I changed to dark mode.

Microsoft Learn with the course Hosting a web application with Azure App service. Microsoft Learn has the dark color scheme in this image.

Let’s analyze myself why I prefer the Dark Mode for Microsoft Learn. For me it is first of all a bigger separation between the learning theory and my developing environment.

2nd It aligns more to PluralSight, the learning platform I used in my years as developer before. My autistic brain really links the first time that I use a product or a technology to further uses of this technologies and (competing) variations of the technology.

So that were my insights in Color Schemes! Feel free to share your experiences!