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Background: I'm building a basic web app that's targeted toward (wait for it) academics. The app is entirely text-driven, and will not involve any images. It will incorporate some databases and longer reading material, so my driving principle here is readability and simplicity. As a front-end developer, I'm a big fan of light-on-dark color schemes as I believe they're easier on the eyes but I know many people feel the opposite.

Question: is there value to incorporating a color picker or color scheme picker into my web app to allow users to change the text color and background color according to what they find most readable, or is this feature likely to go unused?

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Is the intent of the app to perform long-form reading tasks? If so, then it may very well be a good idea, and it somewhat expected by today's eReader apps. – DA01 Jan 23 '14 at 16:31
Yes, there will be some long-form reading – Marcatectura Jan 23 '14 at 16:32
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Color schemes, yes - individual colors, no!

Since you know a lot of color impact on readability, specify three to five schemes your academic users can chose from. That way, they will appreciate your concern over their reading experience within well determined boundries.

Leaving limited options to users is never wrong.

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It's definitely a good idea to include multiple colour schemes. As for your question on whether there's value and whether people will use it:

For the first part, you might want to consider whether this feature falls into the list of must-haves or nice-to-haves in the overall scheme of your application and it's development. As you progress, move from the former to the latter.

For the second part of your question, while novice users might not use the feature at first, they are likely to do so as they indulge in long form reading tasks on your app. So yes, you could include the feature and suggest it as an alternative.

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If it's a web app, you won't have to do anything. The user already has their own preferred colour scheme! Same with font family, font size, and so on.

But if you insist on getting creative and providing a choice of themes, at the very least you should include "everything set to the default" as one of the choices.

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