I have spent a decent amount of time at SO, so I wanted to venture off to other parts of StackExchange. (Yes you can read this as wanting to boost rep). I have found other sites have bad color and/or font schemes.


(this is in no specific order)

  • Beta scheme, the color for unvisited links have bad contrast (2.8:1). A good ratio is 4.5:1
  • Programmers, again unvisited links, and the font choice just for the body text makes me want to leave in seconds.
  • Android, the color for links (from a glance visited and unvisited are #83a127), again a bad ratio (3:1)
  • WP, Some contrast issues site wide.

It's a fairly common problem for link colors to be of very low contrast with other text or to the background, making them either hard to read or hard to distinguish from non-link text.

I used WebAIM's Color Contrast Checker to get the ratio information.

My Request

Please re-evaluate the color link schemes that are chosen for various sites to ensure that they are readable and distinct while maintaining their general color schemes. Ideally schemes should pass at a minimum WCAG AA compliance.

  • 1
    Not sure if this is a perfect solution or not, but you may want to check it out: stackapps.com/questions/2808/stackexchange-theme-switcher
    – jmort253
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:10
  • +1 For the link. That wouldn't work for me at work because we are forced to use IE8. No comments about this please
    – Ryan B
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:15
  • 1
    Not your fault. I can't imagine the pain you must be feeling ;)
    – jmort253
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:16
  • :), drat somebody downvoted, so much for usability
    – Ryan B
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:18
  • 5
    The downvotes may be because people disagreed with your approach to pointing out the flaws in the designs. Yours is but one opinion. You could edit your question to make it sound more like the designs bother you because of X, Y, or Z rather than saying they're just plain bad. Also, you might get a better response if you just focus more on the feature request than singling out the SE designers ;) For instance, suppose the theme switcher was something baked into SE sites, then it wouldn't matter if you're on IE8 or not. Focus on the feature, and I think you might get more support. Good luck!
    – jmort253
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:21
  • I thought pointing out the specifics of various pages would nullify that. I could do contrast ratio tests on like the android colors. When you say focus on the feature, do you mean outline different layouts? I couldn't do that (not the color option type), but I could discuss contrast importance...
    – Ryan B
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:29
  • 3
    Ryan, I'm not sure if you're feature request is "give me the ability to control the contrast/colors, etc for me as a user" or if you're suggesting that SE needs to re-evaluate the color schemes they've chosen for the sites. While both are valid questions, I think that it might help to just pick one for now and focus on that as the two are very different requests. That's just my opinion though and I can't speak for everyone else. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:32
  • Also, just so you know, downvotes work different on meta. They just mean that someone disagree with you, not that your question is bad or poorly written.
    – jmort253
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:39
  • 1
    @jmort253 gotcha, I think it would be better for SE to re-eval.
    – Ryan B
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:39
  • This sounds like a job for Greasemonkey.
    – user102937
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:49
  • @RobertHarvey except when GM isn't available. I tweaked my request to ask SE to follow W3C WCAG standards for at least colors
    – Ryan B
    Jun 24, 2012 at 0:52
  • 4
    "on my two work computers it looks like glow-in-the-dark-impossible-to-read green" This sounds like you need to calibrate your monitor's colors more than anything else
    – Yi Jiang
    Jun 24, 2012 at 2:27
  • 3
    @Robert: "This sounds like a job for Greasemonkey." ... how? He's saying that certain website color schemes are lacking in some way. Greasemonkey would only help him; it would not change the actual color schemes used by the site, what other people are subjected to. Also, if people have to use Greasemonkey to make the site reasonably legible, then the site has failed as a website. Personally, I don't necessarily agree with his statement, but your suggestion is essentially ignoring the question. Jun 24, 2012 at 3:26
  • 2
    I'd strongly recommend making it clearer (esp in the title) that the main problem is the link contrast. As Nick said, the whole of the theme is extremely unlikely to change; bring up the smaller, relevant and important change
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 25, 2012 at 18:08
  • 2
    at most SE sites I frequent, colors of un/visited links make me feel that designers have never heard of Jacob Nielsen
    – gnat
    Jun 25, 2012 at 20:57

2 Answers 2


If you want to do this, it would be client-side. Our graduated sites have themes (identities, really) and that won't change. It's a huge effort to make a theme, so having multiple per site is absolutely not worth it.

In comments you're using IE8...then you can use fiddler with a script to change which theme gets loaded, etc. For those in other browsers there are user scripts available.

If you have issues with a specific theme, that's another question entirely, and should be brought up with specific examples. If it's a matter of taste and you're in the minority...well, I'm sorry. If there are bugs, or many agree that the styling would be better another way, a meta question is the perfect way to find that out...and we'll fix it.

  • 9
    I modified my question, but Robert cut that out. Color blindness is the leading disability among men. You said if I have specific examples, bring them up... I did. I pointed out the ratio for beta, programmers, and android scheme. I linked to a resource so SE could verify ratios and it even helps to pick colors that would make them compliant. Now the android color, how I would fix that is give links a bg of #999
    – Ryan B
    Jun 24, 2012 at 1:02
  • 6
    @RyanB - some of these are concrete data concerns (contrast) other seem to be opinions, so there's still a very mixed feature request here with only a common theme of "I don't like X". Contrast not being high enough is one thing, not liking 5 things on 10 themes is another, and much harder to concisely answer and address...those should be separated out, and honestly asked on those child metas unless there's a direct usability (and not personal taste, as it's phrased here) concern. Jun 24, 2012 at 1:26
  • I edited the question to reflect Android's ratio. WP's issues are more complex and I provided a tool for SE's developers to use. Beyond this, I think would be itching on a formal evaluation (which is what I get paid to do).
    – Ryan B
    Jun 25, 2012 at 18:08

I couldn't agree with this idea more! On SO, I often find myself using links with bold text to make them stand out more, especially when answering a new user's question. Without it, the link would be too easy to miss and my post wouldn't make sense.

Of course, that is an awkward way to include links in a post and this just shouldn't be necessary on a site with a good color scheme, pardon, identity, really.

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