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From: Reid Sweatman (drunkardswalk_at_[hidden])
Date: 2004-09-30 21:49:10

> -----Original Message-----
> From: boost-bounces_at_[hidden]
> [mailto:boost-bounces_at_[hidden]] On Behalf Of Vladimir Prus
> Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 12:15 AM
> To: boost_at_[hidden]
> Subject: [boost] Re: Re: [Poll] New look-n-feel for Boost
> documentation
> Joel wrote:
> >> Y'know, I like blue too, but it shouldn't be used for non-links.
> >> Section headings should be black, just like the rest of the
> >> non-linked text. Black on white reads much more easily (yes,
> >> according to
> >> research) and that applies to headers as well as body text.
> >
> > I do not know what the study is but I find black very
> boring. I find
> > the blue headings actualy more pleasurable to read. I'd
> wish for the
> > blue if you don't have a strong opinion. I really like the
> W3C style
> > blue headings. I agreed on the grey tables with hesitation. Now
> > everything is turning back to monochommatic grey again.
> Gimme back my
> > blues... I love the blues....
> I second that. Sure, for main text black-on-white is the only
> choice. But blue headers make the look less visually boring.

I tend to agree, although I'd go for a more contrasty blue. I'd like to
toss out a book title here (with no intent of offending either artists or
programmers present, but face it, most of us fall in the latter category):
"Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color" by Leatrice Eiseman, ISBN
0-9666383-2-8. Usually goes for around $40 US, and is a pretty good intro
to color psychology, with lots of visual schemes presented.

Maybe a scheme like this (only major colors here; I'm not trying to design
the entire doc style <g>):

    Major headings: 0x006699 (dark blue-teal)
    Backdrop: 0xEDFFFF (very pale blue-teal)
    Box 1: 0xC1EAFC (desaturated light blue)
    Box 2: 0xD5EEF4 (very desaturated light blue)
    Contrast Color: 0xFF7856 (hot orange)
    Body Text: 0x000000 (black)

I think most people will find this a very pleasing combination that's not
wildly different from the existing one. Just a bit perkier and easier on
the eyes. I've got a sample page done in PhotoShop kicked up in front of me
right now, and frankly, after coming up with it, I believe I'll work a more
involved version of it into the product I support, as I find that I'm rather
pleased with it myself.

Other colors that could have worked as secondaries, as for the table boxes,
would have been shades of green. The real trick in keeping the kind of look
the BoostBook already has is simply to keep colors middlin' desaturated,
while maintaining sufficient contrast between foreground and background
elements to make them stand out, without causing eye flicker at the
boundaries. This scheme does that nicely. You wouldn't use the "contrast
color" much; just when you really wanted to emphasize something, because it
really leaps out. You likely wouldn't use it for a backdrop, even
desaturated, unless you didn't mind a block of heavy color, and you'd have
to provide a very contrasty color for text within it, probably white. The
problem with many colors is that when you lighten and desaturate them
heavily, they start to look very pastel and dreamy. It's actually fairly
difficult to come up with a scheme that doesn't; blues do it better, which
is likely one of the reasons a lot of people seem to be gravitating to
blue-ish schemes here. Desaturated purple goes all to easily to colors like
chartreuse and lavender, and bright orange to something like a washed-out
pumpkin; with colors like that, it's better to keep them fairly saturated
and contrast the text in the opposite direction.

I tried, while picking the colors above, to stick to the web-safe colors,
but you really can't come up with a very satisfactory scheme, as they're so
limited, particularly in the teal end of the spectrum. In particular,
there's nothing in the blue or teal range that's really light enough to use
as a backdrop (well, I use heavier ones on my own machines, but I suspect a
number of people would find them too colorful, and they do drop contrast if
you're using any colored text (and here I speak from a fair bit of
experience designing color schemes for things like syntax highlighters and
ad copy).

If there are any real artists reading this, feel free to correct me on
anything I was wrong or misleading about; I'm always willing to learn new
tricks myself. And as a Parthian shot, I note over my mount's hindquarters
that this is all just a suggestion, and not a criticism.


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