The Importance of Using Proper Color Contrast

Color contrast is an important part of creating a website that is accessible to all users. It increases the legibility of text and can help ensure users with low vision have an easier time navigating the site. Poor contrast can often lead to users feeling overwhelmed or disoriented, so finding the right balance between aesthetically pleasing and easy to read is key.

Additionally, color contrast plays an important part in making sure websites are compliant with the ADA, which is why it’s important to take into consideration when crafting a website.

The Importance of Using Proper Color Contrast

What Is Color Contrast?

There are two ways to measure color contrast: the average contrast ratio (ACR) and the Weber contrast ratio (WCR). ACR measures how much light is needed to make one part of an image visible against another.

WCR measures how much light is required to make one part of the image appear white compared to another. Both ACR and WCR are measured using the same formula:

(L* – 128)/128 = C

Where L* is the luminosity value of the darkest area of the image and C is the luminosity value for the brightest area of the image.

Why Does Color Contrast Matter?

In general, the higher the contrast between text and background, the easier it is to read. However, too high of a contrast ratio can cause eyestrain and headaches. A good rule of thumb is to keep the contrast ratio at 3:1 or less.

The human eye has three types of receptors: rods, cones, and ganglion cells. Rods are responsible for night vision, while cones are used for daytime vision. Ganglion cells are located in the innermost layer of the retina and are responsible for processing visual information.

When we look at something, our brain sends signals to the ganglion cells telling them what type of light is coming from the object. If there is a lot of contrast between the object and the background, then the ganglion cells send stronger signals to the brain. This means that the brain receives more information about the object than if there were low levels of contrast. As a result, the brain is able to process the image better.

How Do You Measure Color Contrast?

There are several ways to measure color contrast. One method is to use the WebAIM (Web Accessibility Initiative) Color Contrast Checker. This free online tool will analyze the contrast ratio of any web page and provide an instant report with recommendations. Another option is to use the Color Contrast Ratio Calculator. This calculator allows you to enter the RGB values of each element on a webpage and then calculates the contrast ratio.

The WebAIM Color Contrast Checker is a free online tool that analyzes the contrast ratio of any website and provides an instant report with recommendations for improving the readability of text on a page. To use the tool, simply visit

Once there, click on the “Check My Site” button at the top right corner of the screen. Next, paste the URL of the site into the box provided. After clicking the “Submit” button, the tool will analyze the contrast ratios of the elements on the page and provide suggestions for making the page easier to read.

How Can You Fix Poor Color Contrast?

If you notice that the text on your site has low contrast, you should first make sure that the background is not too light or dark. Next, you should check whether the foreground and background colors are similar enough to avoid visual distraction. Finally, you should ensure that the font size is large enough so that users can read the text easily.

The best way to fix poor color contrast is to use a tool called the Contrast Ratio Checker. This free online tool allows you to quickly compare two different areas of your website and see if there is a problem. Simply enter the URL of your page into the box at the top of the screen, then click the button labeled “Compare.” The tool will analyze both areas of your page and display the results in a graph.

Understand the Difference Between Color Contrast and Visual Contrast

There are two main ways to measure color contrast: the difference between the lightest and darkest hues (color contrast) and the difference between the lightness of one color and another (visual contrast). Both measures are used by web designers to determine how well a particular color combination works with other elements on a page.

The first method, color contrast, is measured using the formula C = 2(L − M), where C is the color contrast, L is the lightest hue, and M is the darkest hue. For example, if you were designing a website for a company whose logo featured red and blue, then the color contrast would be calculated as follows: C = 2(255 – 0) = 2(255).

The second method, visual contrast, is measured using a different formula: V = 1/2(L + M). In this case, V is the visual contrast, L is the lighter shade, and M is the darker shade. For example, if the logo had been designed with red and green, then the visual contrast would be calculated as: V = 1/4(255 + 128) = 1/4(256) = 64.


Designers have long been conscious of the importance of color contrast in the outcome of their creative endeavors, from website interfaces to physical products. This is especially important with regard to accessibility. Color contrast is used to ensure that content is accessible to a wide range of users, particularly those with disabilities such as low vision, who need to be able to perceive the content on a page.

By using a variety of colors with a sufficient level of contrast in relation to their background, designers can ensure that all users are able to access the information.

Accessibility is incredibly important to our entire team. This is why when we start a website development project our sites are ADA compliant, including maintaining proper color contrast, from day one.  Reach out to us if you want to talk about what getting an accessible website for your business means.

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