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My monitor has crappy color correction…


January 2019



I still remember when I picked up my monitor for my home office – it was 10 years ago, and I was a starving designer.

It’s been 10 years, that monitor has a dead pixel, and color correction as horrible as ever – but I’m ok with that.

We are the 1%

I work on a Mac now (like pretty much every designer I’ve met).
We’re gifted to be able to work and always see the web exactly how the designer imagined (since Macs are pretty much the defacto standard for being a “good display”).

There was recently a post on DesignerNews about what monitors designers are using as their second screen… and man, we really like nice things (my old monitor looks like the velveteen rabbit at the end of the book in comparison).

Knowing your customers, possibly the ~99%

This is what this whole post is about, getting to know your customers.

I work at a retail data science company that creates business software for business users. Within our core product, once we filter for our internal users, 100% of our users are Windows based.

Even on our marketing website – we have more than 60% of users viewing on Windows devices.

A lot of our users, especially on the product, are using 1920×1080 monitors – and while I have to make an assumption about their color correction, I’m going to guess it’s probably not amazing.

This is why in-office our designers currently use the same monitors as our developers – which while nice and large, are really, really not color correct.

How can I learn more about what my users are using?

The best way I’ve found to find out what users are using is to use Google Analytics.
If you navigate to Audience > Technology > Browser & OS you’ll be able to find a listing of your viewers’ Browser, OS, and Screen resolution which should help you paint a pretty decent picture of the types of machines your users are using.

As you can see in the screenshot below 47.68% of our users in this use-case are using Windows machines.

Where does it matter?

The place where color correction matters the most is the thresholds.

Somewhere between 20-30% color contrasting is a must in order for the colors to be viewable on a wide range of monitors.

To give you an idea of how users experience websites, DesignerNews’ background (which is quite apparent on my Mac), is hardly shaded on my non-color correct monitor.

A word on Windows…

There’s enough content to write another whole article on designing for Windows vs Mac users (especially when it come to font rendering and Internet Explorer) – but I’ll leave this here:
https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/Microsoft graciously makes available Internet Explorer virtual machines for all of its versions (even back to IE8 ?).

It’s a bit of a pain, and a waste of HD space – but it makes it possible to test how your users will view your designs on Windows machines.

So all your user base uses Apple products, that’s fine as well.

Thresholds – On Accessibility

You should still be checking to make sure that your products are accessible. Users with vision problems may also have trouble with seeing color variation and contrasting.

Again, I could write another whole article on accessibility – and I’m actually sure there are accessibility designers who are much qualified to speak about it than I am – but I’d recommend having a look at the Accessibility Auditor Bookmarklet which helps to identify some of the most common accessibility issues such as color variation and contrasting.

You can find it here: