Wot no body { background-color:white; } ?

Yesterday I had a good day at opentech which was good fun and met lots of intersting folk, but I missed an opportunity to ask a Yahoo Search bod - Jeremy Zawodny why their search site didn’t bother setting a background colour, so instead, I’m going to start what’s hopefully not a regular look at sites which fail…

All of the major brands on the web other than Amazon failed to do the most basic QA on their sites, and all of them suffer from developers who don’t really know the common pitfalls of designing. I don’t know why this is, but please sort it out, it really looks bad for your brand - go back to your style guides, and read the bit where it says white backgrounds…

4 Responses to “Wot no body { background-color:white; } ?”

  1. Dean Edwards Says:

    transparent is the new white. ;-)

  2. Christopher Schmidt Says:

    Given the number of page hits that these pages get, and considering most of them probably don’t set any other colors either (meaning that the only problem comes when you’re dealing with the graphics aspect), some of this may be a considered choice, rather than a mistake. My thought on this matter applies most to google, which pulls every whitespace, and every other not-completely-neccesary aspect of their HTML out: In that case, it seems likely that they are making the concious choice to save bandwidth. Every character counts when you’re dealing with thousands of hits per second.

  3. Dave Allen Barker Jr Says:

    I appreciate the color of body content being left alone, leaving my defaults to present me with what I prefer. On a high contrast display that is great for photo work for example, a background of white is uncomfortable to read on for too long, so my system (and therefor browser) colors default to something more appropriate for that environment.

    I understand the importance of branding, but that can come through fine confined to headers and body flanking columns (e.g. navigation). I appreciate a site who appreciates my defaults enough to only stomp on them with discretion.

    They should be sure though their use of color is ready for an unknown environment. For example, if a foreground color is defined (say, for links), be sure to specify a background color for that element, because your link foreground color may be my default background color.

  4. Jim Ley Says:

    Dave, I agree entirely, if you set no colours, then there’s no problem with not setting any background colour, however all of the sites I linked to set at least one foreground or link colour, so they could be invisible to some people.

    Chris, your argument could apply to google, except on their heavily minimised front page, they do set a background colour, the page where they don’t is their account page, if it was consistent, I’d accept you might be right, but as it’s inconsistent, I’m sure it’s just bad QA.

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