Background colours in eLearning

Nov 06, 2013

So one of my colleagues today has been told that we shouldn't be designing our eLearning content using black backgrounds because "learners find it more difficult to read the content and retain it".  They said we should do all of our eLearning on white backgrounds.

I personally do not agree with this.  Yes the correct combination of colours need to be used but what do other people think on this view.  Are black/dark backgrounds a no no?

8 Replies
Cary Glenn

There is some debate on this, it matters on what you are doing. If people are reading for content then dark text on white (or off white) background is better. If people are scanning (buttons, tabs, headers) then white text on black (or other colour) is fine.

Here are some link that discuss the debate and why it is better to use dark text/white background.

Try reading this site and see what you think of light text/dark background.

David Price

Thanks for the links Cary, an interesting read.

That last link really hurt my eyes and can see the point of not using white txt on black however the font I am using on my eLearn is quite a crisp and clean one and doesn't seem to produce the same sort of effect.

I'll crack on with what I am doing but will be good to keep in mind for the future.

Paul S.

Another thing to consider is the age group of your learners. For example, Yahoo Sports recently changed their website to a black background. There was a HUGE backlash from the over 40 crowd because of the effect on the eyes. Before Yahoo took down the message board there was literally thousands of complaints and they did lighten up the background a bit.

Personally I will not stay on a website for 10 seconds if it has a dark background. Can't imagine being required to take a course with one. Just something else to think about....


Nancy Woinoski

David Price said:

Thank you for the suggestions.

Although the background is mainly black there is some colour on it which breaks it up a little but I will try the lighter version and see what it produces.

It just makes me laugh as our companies brand is mainly dark/black

My 2 cents: If you like the background and you think the text is clear and readable then go with your gut. So much of this stuff is subjective and the colour is easy to change if you get some real objections down the road.

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