Back in the eighties Formula One Grand Prix teams discovered that the easiest thing to read on a car travelling at 300kmh is black type on a white background.
They promptly redesigned the car’s livery so that where ever they needed to paste a sponsor’s message it was black on white.
This of course gave the sponsor a better return than if their message had been say black text on a red background, or even worse white text on a black background (otherwise known as reverse type).
Speed Reading Customers
Your online customers are speed readers.
The speed at which they browse your web pages is akin to how quickly someone views a Formula One car flashing by.
Research keeps showing that viewers will spend just a few seconds on any page unless it really catches their attention. So you want to make sure you have the best chance of catching their eyes and black text on a white background is the best chance you’ve got.
The Original Mad Man Knew This
Multimillion dollar racing teams weren’t the first to discover the benefits of black on white.
The original Mad Man and modern father of Advertising, David Ogilvy, was notorious for berating designers and creative directors for using reverse type: And with good reason.
Ogilvy’s own research had proved that reverse type is 10 times harder to read than normal type.
If it’s 10 times harder to read, then it’s that much harder to understand. If people can’t read it or understand it, then there’s no way they are going to remember it.
Basically using reverse type wipes out 90% of your potential customer audience straight away. Why would you do it?
Our Ancestors Knew This
But even Ogilvy wasn’t the first to make this discovery. After all, our books, magazines and newspapers have been printed this way for centuries.
We also have whiteboards and modern computer screens that stick to this convention. Although as some of you will remember nether of them started out this way.
Even the cavemen put black smokey lines on the white roofs of their caves.
There’s a reason we've always done it this way, it works, don’t try and mess with it.
So Why Do People Still Use Reverse Type?
Who cares? It doesn’t work, don’t do it.
Do what works and get 10 times the result.
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