Can more contrast lower readership (and conversions)?

Got this very good question from one of the people who bought 8 Simple Font Fixes that Improve Readership & Lift Conversion Rates yesterday:

You say "For maximum legibility, experts generally agree that a text color between #222 and #444 set against a white or slightly of-white background is best."   Why isn't black #000000 the best text color to use?  Isn't that the sharpest?

I'm always glad to get questions like this, because it shows people are thinking carefully about what they read, and questioning it when it seems wrong. And although I make every effort to never be wrong when I sell you information, I am glad when you don't just take this for granted :)

The reason I recommend dark gray over black is because of contrast. Black may be sharper, but it also has higher contrast. Now obviously too LITTLE contrast is very bad (you can't read the text easily). But too MUCH is also a problem.

This is why white text on a black background reduces readership so significantly. Very high-contrast body copy is actually very hard on the eyes.

So for dark-on-light, I think dark gray is better than black — especially for long copy. This varies depending on the person and the screen they're using, but as a general rule it holds true that dark gray is easier on the eyes, while being no less clear than black text.

Btw, if you'd like to learn all 8 of my secrets for improving readership and conversions on your site, go here:

Talk again soon,

D Bnonn Tennant
‘The Information Highwayman’

D Bnonn Tennant, ‘The Information Highwayman’, signs his name to this