F*ck The Color Blind

Can you imagine conversion optimization professionals deciding to completely ignore 8% of the customer base? That doesn't sound right at all, but it's true. 8% of all male customers (and 1 in 200 women) don't see the digital experience we so patiently crafted for them. What's going on?

It’s easy. These people are color blind in one way or another (as there are multiple types of color blindness). And that 8% can be even higher for populations with a greater number of white (Caucasian) people per head of population.

In Scandinavia, the figures increase to approximately 10-11% of men. But –and this is equally important– the number can also increase fast for specific groups of people, such as older males. In fact, it is relatively common for people over 65 to have some form of color-blindness.

Creating and checking websites for people with color blindness used to be hard, but there is an easy way to check your website. Scroll down to the big blue button or keep reading to lear more about a large section of your potential customers.

 

What kind of color blindness is most common?

The most common types of color blindness are referred to as red-green color blindness. People lose the ability to recognize red (known as protan) or green (deutran). Sometimes in part, sometimes completely.

 

What about seniors and color blindness?

As I’m sure you are well aware, there are a lot of senior citizens out there. They are a group to be reckoned with. In the U.S. they account for 41.6% of consumer spending!(1And they don’t like what they are seeing.

Babyboomers are not to be forgotten

The graph at the right shows the so-called ‘Babyboomers’, compared to other age groups in the Netherlands (2). A massive group of people will become 60+ in the coming years. We need to know how they see the world.

It’s the same for most Western-European countries as well as the United States. Right about 47 million seniors live in the U.S. and that number is expected to double soon (3). These seniors also have a high life expectancy.

Dutch Statistics showing people over 60 are becoming the biggest group

Aging eyes

When we age, so do our eyes. The lenses inside the eyes can become yellowish. Everything becomes slightly yellow and distinguishing blue from purple and yellow from green becomes harder. It’s especially noticeable when colors are washed out (4).

 

What can Conversion Optimization professionals advice?

Part of the problem is solved by our standard Conversion Optimization Method of Operation: Clarity Above All. When you’re crafting a digital experience, clarity is key and that goes for color & contrast as well.

 

How to solve color- and readability issues:

  1. No unnecessary frills in the design
  2. Use more contrast than just color; use different sizes, patterns, and icons to emphasize
  3. Test your design

 

Testing for color-blindness is easy!

Use the free Chrome Extension Color Blindy. Quickly see how people with color-blindness experience your website. The plugin adjusts your entire page in a preview mode. Using it is extremely easy. Below is a small animation showing the difference of a Dutch E-commerce shop.

 

DOWNLOAD THE FREE CHROME EXTENSION

 

The online shop from my example caters to a lot of seniors. If the designer had done some testing with this free Chrome extension, they would have quickly found out their big bold “30% discount” banner missed the mark for a lot of people in their target audience. An easy fix would be to dump the color red and just keep the type in white. Black and white already form the ultimate contrast. Or, if red is somehow a color they really needed to use, they could add a red outline or even change the entire box from black to red. Anything but this:

 

If it looks hard to read...

Finally, remember; if it looks hard to read, it IS hard to read. Today, with free tools for everyday browsers these kinds of things shouldn’t be happening anymore. As a quick visual reminder, here are some pencils and how color-blind people see them(5).

Color pencils demonstrating how people with color blindness see color