Lack of contrast and visual distinctions in Snowdrift themed tools

Preface: I personally prefer high-contrast. I hate the trends of flat, grey-on-grey, low-contrast designs. I use the Dark Background Light Text browser plugin. I just turn it off for because I want to see the normal design in this case.

This complaint was first brought up by @chreekat in terms of his broadly having difficulty distinguishing sections (where action items are, what’s framing vs core content) in stuff like our wiki and elsewhere.

I noticed that our Discourse theme is lacking in visual distinction and contrast compared to default themes shown at Notes:

  • Their site, the categories all have different colored highlight bars (and squares for smaller listings) next to the name, making skimming easier
  • They use a range of reds to greys highlighting activity
  • They use grey to diminish structural things with more black-on-white for the core titles
  • Our green-on-white text is on the low-contrast side for me, not as bad as they grey-on-white but not as clear as the black-on-white
  • The bold red block with inverted white text makes it clearer what filter is active compared to our blue with underline
  • They have clear hover effects with grey boxes or red box around sort and filter choices in the main view, whereas we have either nothing or subtle text color change

So, general request for improved contrast overall, both generally and considering some of the points above.

1 Appreciation

I understand your concern and already agree with much of it.


the original post had complaints about now-deleted paragraph from above

The tools to flag and clear things appropriately were not working right, so as moderator, I just edited it out for now. History is in the edit history anyway, although none of this is how the system should be working, still learning our way around Discourse.

Yes, I can totally see how you can have problems with a snow themed interface when you are used to light text on dark background.

Where can I read up about that complaint? I don’t know what you mean by “action items” and “framing vs. core content”

This request is not actionable enough to be of much use. I propose you open up an issue for each suggestion you list here. Ideally with a screen-shot that makes very clear what you are talking about instead of describing it and giving a link to the entire page.

It would be ideal to get @chreekat to articulate his concerns. He posted on IRC originally, prompting me later to decide to post here, and he marked that he “agreed” with my post. He hasn’t clarified otherwise.

I agree, but that’s why I posted here. I don’t know which of the things I noted should directly be worked on, but I can pick ones that seem clear enough and open issues. Otherwise, I just wanted to prompt the topic so maybe others who have more perspective on design could consider the issues and which make sense or not.

And, yeah, since I’m coming from such a biased position with that plugin, I don’t feel my view is quite normal. So I didn’t want to push ahead on issues unless they seemed to make sense to others. But I can do open some of the more obvious issues in next couple days.

I’m satisfied. I don’t have anything else explicit to ask for right now.

Issues opened:

I wasn’t sure what to do about the general concern about light-green-on-white being relatively low-contrast or the general concern about good contrast, but I assume the idea has been stated and no specific issue ticket is warranted.