The Contrast Triangle

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Chip Cullen:

Let’s say you’re building a site, and you’re working with a designer. They come to you with some solid designs, and you’re ready to go. You’re also a conscientious front end developer and you like to make sure the sites you build are accessible. The designs you’re working from have some body copy, but you notice that the links inside the body copy are missing underlines.

You are now in The Contrast Triangle.

The “triangle” meaning a three-sided comparison:

  • The contrast between the background and text
  • The contrast between the background and links
  • the contrast between text and links

I would think this matters whether you underline links or not, but I take the point that without underlines the problem is worse.

I’d also argue the problem is even more complicated. You’ve also got to consider the text when it is selected, and make sure everything has contrast when that is the case too. And the hover states, active states, visited states, and focus states. So it’s really like hexacontakaienneagon of contrast or something.

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