What's The Diff?

The things Quicken Loans team members care about and want to share with the world

Vote: Is Gray the New Black?

Diffinblack_1 According to our illustrious chairman, Dan Gilbert, gray is out and black is in – always and forever – when it comes to text on the Web. For longer than I’ve been around, Dan has fought the good fight about never assuming people can easily read text on our Web sites that is in any shade of gray. I even got caught up in an e-mail debate with Dan and others earlier disputing the merits of gray text as a different, arguably attractive design option versus how easily people can read it.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter what we think. In fact, we want to hear from you! Let yours eyes peruse THE DIFF as it is now – gray text and all – and compare it to a new design that favors black text. Which do you like better?

What’s your vote? Enter any and all comments by clicking on the "comments" link below or just click here.

Post Metadata

Social Bookmarking

AddThis Button


  1. I like the grey text better. It is easier on the eyes.

    Posted by: Ingrid Henkel | December 19, 2006
  2. I happen to like the grey better in this design because it is being used in places that don’t require focus.
    The danger with grey sometimes on the web is that it’s perceived as not-clickable or inactive. On this blog though, the grey works well.

    Posted by: Todd Albery | December 19, 2006
  3. I vote for black text in the left nav (I agree it can be hard to read) and grey text in the body (I think it looks good and reads well)

    Posted by: Clayton | December 19, 2006
  4. I like the gray text but I’m not sure it works as well in the left-side navigation.

    Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006
  5. The black works better for the left navigation, which seems to get washed out because of the bold font size. In the body copy, I think the gray is actually easier to read.

    Posted by: Madgeman | December 19, 2006
  6. I totally like it in black!

    Posted by: Angie | December 19, 2006
  7. I like the black text in the body. The contrast helps being able to read the copy. But I like the grey bold text in the navigation. The black bold in the navigation is too overpowering and distracts from the important content.

    Posted by: Jen R | December 19, 2006
  8. the black text

    Posted by: Theresa | December 19, 2006
  9. I like grey. Black looked like it was yelling at me, for some reason.

    Posted by: Andrea | December 19, 2006
  10. Most definitely black, all the way around. Grey is still commonly known as something that is “not available” when viewing text on the web. The black is bolder, richer, and more appealing to the eye due to the contrast against the white background.

    Posted by: Vicki Carlson | December 19, 2006
  11. I think Ingrid is right on the money about grey not appearing “clickable.” I do like it in the body of the site, however.
    So to reiterate, black in the nav bar and grey elsewhere.
    Of course, we just threw a whole new variable in there now, didn’t we? And this was supposed to make things easier for you…

    Posted by: Mike D | December 19, 2006
  12. I like the gray text better. It looks very classy, and it’s not as harsh to the eyes as all of the black, esp. the bold black.

    Posted by: Becky | December 19, 2006
  13. I prefer the gray – it works better with the overall design. The black seems to be overwhelming.

    Posted by: Rosie | December 19, 2006
  14. I agree with Todd’s above post about the preconceived notions of gray text and not being “active”. I think they both look good, but black draws your attention to the text a little better.

    Posted by: KG | December 19, 2006
  15. Black is crisper and easier to read. No question.

    Posted by: Frank | December 19, 2006
  16. The black was much easier to read and stood out nicely as compared to the grey

    Posted by: David | December 19, 2006
  17. Black is easier to read. Stands out. Grey gets fuzzy. As far as the left nav column is concerned, what happened to the Church of the Blue Links? I thought we were all clear that if you can click on it, it should be blue and underlined. Or is The Diff too cool for useability….? :)

    Posted by: Stapper | December 19, 2006
  18. The grey is softer and easier to read. Black looks good on the left-side navigation but I don’t prefer it in the body text.

    Posted by: Ryan | December 19, 2006
  19. While we are on the subject of readability, have any of you tried to “preview” your post?
    Come on Diff team – eat your own dog food!!!!

    Posted by: Stapper | December 19, 2006
  20. The diff. has a distressed, vintage look to it and when you add the black type you loose that feel. True, the black type does offer clean / better readability in the ad but is it worth losing the vintage look?
    Keep the print element (vague) and Gray.

    Posted by: M.M.M. | December 19, 2006
  21. Honestly. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is the content. I wouldn’t get stuck on the color of the font. Worry more about the message.

    Posted by: dh | December 19, 2006
  22. Grey just as easy to read as black, and easier on the eyes. My vote: grey text, black navs.

    Posted by: Essef | December 19, 2006
  23. Perhaps a text color slightly darker, but definitely not black. maybe changing the color code from #818181 to #717171. This should help keep the style of the page and make the text slightly more readable for those who are having difficulty.

    Posted by: Drew Butler | December 19, 2006
  24. I like the gray but have to wonder aloud…why is gray also spelled grey? and what’s with the mustard yellow?

    Posted by: kathy fawcett | December 19, 2006
  25. Um, I’m with the content person. It doesn’t much matter… sounds like you all are splitting hairs. But, since you want opinions, I’ll give one. Not that I’ve actually thought about it until this post, though… I like the body copy being gray/grey (thanks, Kathy!), but the nav needs to be a different color. Prolly black. Or, maybe blue/underlined as the universal click standard.
    Seriously, gray/grey, black or blue, it all works. We’re down to a matter of preference. This isn’t so much usability or rules or who’s right. Someone said something about “THE DIFF” having a distressed look. Go with it! This is a beautiful site, whether the text is gray or black, and whether the links are gray, blue or black. It will all work.

    Posted by: bh | December 19, 2006
  26. It all looks black in my feed reader–the new Web interface.

    Posted by: Bill | December 19, 2006
  27. Okay, yeah, something has to be done with the preview screen. Most people don’t actually read or review anything in the preview screen, but Stapper has a point… just in case someone *does* look at it, it should be readable. Make the type white, or change the background.

    Posted by: bh | December 19, 2006
  28. Rarely, if ever, is design about Who is Right. Design is about trust. Let’s trust the designers we’ve entrusted with this design. THE DIFF BLOG IS NOT A DIRECT RESPONSE AD, it’s a communication piece. The first time I saw it, I thought “wow,” this looks great, and loved the content so much I keep trying to add to it (did you read Hoosier Diff?).
    Design by committee or popular vote will not get the results we are looking for, and will not communicate DIFF.

    Posted by: kathy fawcett | December 20, 2006
  29. Grey looks nice overall but black is much easier to read. Go for funtionality – use black.

    Posted by: Art | December 20, 2006
  30. Black. While I am a fan of the distressed look, I think the distressed logo is enough to carry that feel. Additionally, the header to the site is not distressed which eliminates the argument for gray being part of the distressed look. Concurrently, the black seemed to compliment the bold green in the header. It was crisp and honestly, made it more inviting for me to read. While this isn’t always the case for black type, I think in this situation black is better. Just one opinion.

    Posted by: mb | December 20, 2006
  31. I agree with DH and Kathy. Focus on the message and trust the designer. If you can’t read the gray (grey), then maybe it’s time for a new pair of glasses.

    Posted by: Mia | December 20, 2006
  32. I definitley prefer the grey! A shade darker with the bold in the left navigation would be less washed out. The black is definitely too harsh.

    Posted by: kw | December 20, 2006
  33. The black text has more of a more professional and traditional feel in comparison to the grey text. However, the grey text is a little more trendy a lot of different sites use some sort of various grey text including yahoo and cnn. This blog is a different type of website which doesn’t follow the mold of different websites. Nevertheless, I think at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what color the text is…what really matters is the content. If the content of the blog is really good people are going to read it.

    Posted by: E$ | December 20, 2006
  34. I vote for a darker grey – the current is too light and the black is too dark. Can we find a tweener that looks good?

    Posted by: Jim | December 20, 2006
  35. I think a slightly darker grey would be nice for the actual content. The side links could be an even darker grey. Black is nice for emboldening titles and such, but it’s not necessarily required for all text just for the sake of readability.

    Posted by: Adam | December 20, 2006
  36. Darker gray. I like the gray way better than the black overall, but making it slightly darker could be an improvement.

    Posted by: cat | December 20, 2006
  37. A wise man once said, “A camel is a horse designed by committee.”

    Posted by: Demon | December 20, 2006
  38. I really spent some time comparing the two text color choices because I need computer glasses to read any of the text. I have to agree with Art. The page looks great with the grey text but the black text snaps into focus much quicker and is easier to read.

    Posted by: jo milz | December 20, 2006
  39. Why limit it to black or gray?
    Why not add the two colors to the text design template? Perhaps if we have initial comments and intro paragraphs in black and the remainder of text in gray, it would allow the reader to “browse” the black intros quickly, and read on into the gray copy if desired.

    Posted by: Smitty | December 20, 2006
  40. Camels are pretty ingenious designs I would say ….

    Posted by: Madgeman | December 20, 2006
  41. I have little new to add to the comments that have been made. I agree that black is harsh and to “traditional” for an extraordinary company such as Quicken Loans. I like the gray, but would like to see a darker gray in the navigation bar.

    Posted by: KM | December 20, 2006
  42. I vote for Black. With the gray it seemed like I had to focus harder to read the text, it was too light. The black was much easier on the eyes to read – no squinting necessary.

    Posted by: VL | December 20, 2006
  43. I like the gray. It’s not as harsh as the black and it gives it a more modern look. Gray is in! Very nice!

    Posted by: Tater | December 20, 2006
  44. I think the black maybe a little easier to read for people who’s eyes aren’t the best. For me, either black or gray works fine.

    Posted by: Aisha | December 20, 2006
  45. How about a combination? The grey text in the article looks clean and less intense then black text.
    However, black headers and side bar links stand out and guide your mouse to stay and click around. Successful websites do that. You want a “Diff” erentiating theme to engage your audience. I love Yahoo’s website. It is clean, simple and only uses a few colors. Use them both to compliment each other.

    Posted by: The Guy | December 21, 2006
  46. I think either works. Black is definitely higher contrast but I can read gray fine.
    So if I had to vote, black wins because it is easiest to see. Stylistically, I’m not an expert. So if it is a question of what looks better, that is a toss up.

    Posted by: Bennie | December 22, 2006
  47. I feel more at ease when reading grey text…I am wondering if you could choose a slightly darker shade of grey that is near black. I tend to read the grey text more carefully. More important than the color is the typestyle chosen, and I think the one currently used has excellent readability.

    Posted by: Cindy S. | December 22, 2006
  48. Black is much better. The shade of grey is way to light. The black text makes it very clear to see.

    Posted by: Tim Young | December 26, 2006
  49. Hey, so is anyone going to report back and tell us what the verdict is here?

    Posted by: Madgeman | December 31, 2006
  50. The official WINNERS were gray in the body and a darker color in the right/top navigation. Black seemed to be too much for some people in the navigation, so we’ve decided to go with a darker, clearer gray. Thank you everyone for your participation!

    Posted by: Ann-Marie | January 2, 2007
  51. Great News!
    You really don’t have to make a firm decision. You can have it both ways. With the advancements in web coding scripts and cookies (Web Design Lingo) you can give the reader the option of what color they want the text to be. Seeing as there was a debate with multiple views and ideas of what’s best, the diff would be living up to itself by creating templates that allow the viewer to choose the right font for them and create the best possible experience for them. I know the Web Designers know how. Let’s do it right.

    Posted by: Dallas DeGrendel | January 18, 2007

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Secondary Navigation:

Promotional Information:

Partner Links:
Site Feeds:
Today's Date:
Sunday, March 18, 2018