I am particularly concerned with printed business cards.

Assuming it can be printed out in high-enough quality, are gradients distracting to read text that is printed on them? Should business cards use a gradient background or a plain one?

I am thinking of a Grey scale fade.

  • What is your motivation for asking this? Is it just about whether it will print out ok, because that's not a User Experience issue. – JonW Jan 9 '13 at 10:24
  • yes - I do not have access to a printer. So I wanted to know once it is printed will it be readable. Or are there inherent issues that make gradients appear jaggard or too distracting for people to read the text. i.e are people going to be happier to have a plain background – Daveo Jan 9 '13 at 10:31
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    OK, I have amended the question slightly to bring it more around UX. Otherwise the answer would just be 'it depends on the quality of the printer'. – JonW Jan 9 '13 at 10:42
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    Basically, I don't think it matters, if it is printed or projected or what not. The question, essentially, is about whether or not experience sufferes from text being superimposed onto a gradient - while from my point of view that is a general "yes, it distracts" this question can't really be answered but for your specific example. – kontur Jan 9 '13 at 10:57

Check the colours you use for the text and background using one of the online tools, e.g. http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200709/10_colour_contrast_checking_tools_to_improve_the_accessibility_of_your_design/

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    Good suggestion, however do the same criteria still apply to printed (physical) content? – JonW Jan 9 '13 at 10:47
  • Good question - that is exactly what I would like to know also. As snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html shows my design fails all the compliance test. Light grey background with dark grey text. It is hard to read on screen, but I feel when printed it will be easier. – Daveo Jan 9 '13 at 10:58
  • @JonW I'm less familiar with printed content but I'd expect the same principles to apply - would be interested to know how printed matter differs – Peter Jan 9 '13 at 11:16

I'm positive you can find a gradient/text colour combination where the large majority will be able to read it without considerable effort. However, does that make it justified? Well, that's up to personal preference, personally I'd not take the risk.

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That is a design decision rather than a UX one, unless the gradient makes it difficult to read. In that case, don't use a gradient as I presume that you really want people to be able to read your business cards.

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  • Can people not read text on gradients then? Your answer makes this suggestion. – JonW Jan 9 '13 at 10:42
  • @JonW I said that "unless the gradient makes it difficult to read". I've seen some horrendous gradient usage over the years, and this is the only time that I can see when it would be a UX consideration and not simply a design choice. – JohnGB Jan 9 '13 at 10:53

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