I work at an airline as a pilot and I am involved in the "paperless" project which aims to have no more paper in the cockpit - all the data should be accessible from tablet devices.
We have a lot to read during flights (checklists, rules and regulations, maps and so on). We will have special screens (size of about an iPad) but with a higher resolution (1280x1024).
What's the best color combination considering night/day conditions? And what's the best font to read on screen?
- Please also include sources to your answers (studies or similar)
- Legibility * in various conditions from bright sunlight to complete darkness
- Retention * as there will be no more books, pilots are forced to learn at their home computers (ev. bad lighting, bad monitors)
- Aesthetics * is not really a factor, but in my opinion needed to meet the users expectations
My personal history shows that I work mostly with classic black on white contrasts (as a developer and as a consumer). We already have a software product which allows the pilots to switch to "night-mode" which inverts the most colors, however almost nobody uses the feature. The reason why I don't switch to the "night" mode is mainly because we can dim our device perfectly so there is almost no glow which distracts us during flight and we have the cockpit lights on during cruise.
Airbus Industries started to ship their electronic software with the default setting set to white on black (with the option to switch). I ask myself if they did it only to be conform with the cockpit displays (CRT/LCD mixed, only white on black)?
Lufthansa Systems has a complete system which is by default black on white. I am not aware of an option to switch it into night mode in general, except the navigation maps.
Personally I think it's important to have an eye on the web industry, as by today almost everyone is involved. We read, write and learn in the web - and it's mostly black on white. This could be the reason why most people think white on black is odd and won't use it if made available as an option, because it's not a common standard. So why should we force the user to white on black?
The current choice would be Tahoma 12pt, #222 on #fff with the option for #fff on #000 according to Michael Zuschlag's answer and references.