Reboot: Light vs. Dark
Obviously, one of the common themes that came out of the Reboot was that dark is in. One of the first sites that I drew inspiration from was Ordered List. It had seemed to take the light on top and dark on bottom look from the previous Niggle design (Flickr) and made it dark on dark. Of course, being grey and green, I felt obligated to like it. Then, Veerle's infamous redesign pushed me into a full-on redesign.
I think one of the things I like about these light on dark designs is the reminder of my youth, sitting in front of an ANSI screen where the colours just popped. That was definitely one of the things that I tried to put into this design. No rounded corners; just crisp sharp lines.
But the outcry against black could be heard amongst the crowd. "Hard to read", they say. I've been looking at this design most evenings for a couple months now and actually found it comfortable on the eyes. Why is that? And then it dawned on me...I was always looking at the design in the evening, often working in the dark. Looking at it during the daytime with the bright sun beaming in, I actually found myself preferring the contrast mode on.
Are light on dark designs more susceptible to lighting conditions? Seems reasonable enough. Your monitor will be pumping out less light to show whatever is on the screen. With a white background, the screen floods you with light. As a result, it's more capable of competing with high light situations.
And that may be where Veerle's design does fairly well. While the background is dark, it's not black. It's actually quite light (#2F3E3E) in comparison to what I've got here (#0D0D0D). It gives off more light.
In the end, this may be a lesson learned. I still like the dark theme and I'll definitely hang onto the style, I may just end up playing with the background colour.
If you're interested in seeing how the design of this site has changed, compare the new home page with the old home page. As an interesting comparison, the design iteration before that still exists as the "example" template for things like the Colour Contrast Checker.