[W]hen we think of web design, it is rare to consider users that have color blindness, or color vision deficiency (CVD). However, this condition is incredibly common and can really alter how a website is perceived. CVD affects 1 in 12 men in the USA and approximately 1 in 200 women. This is thought to be higher in Caucasian men particularly and the figure is estimated to be 10% of men. When you are designing a website, taking into consideration CVD really can make it user-friendly and reduce your bounce rate.

Web Design for Color Blindness – What is CVD?

CVD is the inability to distinguish blue, red and green streams of light. The most common form is red/green color blindness, where any colors that have red or green as part of them are muddled. It is caused by a mutation in the X chromosome, which is why men are more likely to be affected by the condition than women. Women, however, can be carriers of the genetic condition, without actually having any of the symptoms. Other types of CVD include Protan color blindness, which affects the ability to distinguish red light and Protanopia which affects the ability to distinguish blue and purple light.

How Does this Affect Web Design?

Web design is all about accessibility – creating a website that is simple to use, intuitive in the use buttons and functions. Having a site that is overly busy in pictures and information can put users off, and they will look elsewhere for the things that they need. When you are trying to convey a message, then it is important to use both colors and symbols that are easily distinguishable. Web design has advanced enormously since the 1980s, but even the oldest domains on the internet were designed with the customer’s needs in mind, this is good practice. Things like error messages are often put in red, but unless there are symbols next to them clarifying what is wrong, they can be missed if the website user has CVD.

Keeping Design Clean and Sleek

Keeping web design minimal and clean is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also helps users with CVD. Obviously, the color palette that you use is extremely important, but it is also good to be conservative in the choices you make. Using a limited amount of colors will look classic and timeless, and it will also help cut down any confusion. Some color combinations are particularly difficult for people with CVD, not just red/green. Green/brown, blue/grey and green/black can commonly cause problems too.

Instead of concentrating on color, instead, use different textures and patterns on block images to show contrasts. This is particularly useful when featuring infographics and graphs. It is also a good idea to place text next to important images, to clarify their meaning. That way it is easy to understand the information that is needed.

When you are designing a website, considering users with CVD can help make your website look clean, and helps to really focus on making the website content clear. You can’t rely on color to bring across the message that you’re trying to convey. A well-placed text will really help make your website user-friendly.

Feature image courtesy of Igor Miske via Unsplash.com