Discussion: Extending the timeline for higher contrast form fields and buttons

Hi everyone! We recently discussed switching to new, higher contrast form fields and buttons throughout WP-Admin. That thread provided some great feedback, and resulted in an updated direction

This direction is available in the Design Experiments Plugin. It includes: 

  • Higher contrast form fields that mirror Gutenberg styles. (#47153, #47150)
  • Updated select fields to match. 
  • Updated primary buttons that use #007cba. This passes WCAG 2.0 contrast guidelines without the use of an additional dropshadow. 
  • Updated secondary buttons that use a light gray background and a dark gray border to match the updated form fields. 
  • All button variations include new focus styles. (#34904)
  • Updated table & card borders to carry that higher contrast aesthetic out to more of the UI and create balance.  

This seems like a relatively solid direction, but I’m not convinced it’s the optimal one yet. There are many moving parts happening in the lead up to 5.3 — focus states, button styles, form borders, etc. — and I think we could benefit from taking more time to explore all of our options before we leap on this solution. 

For instance, while this work was happening, @drw158 concurrently explored a new WordPress color palette. This new palette takes a slightly different approach to solving some of the button contrast issues, and also deserves feedback and iteration. Similarly, we should consider directions that involve reducing or removing WP-Admin’s light gray backgrounds to achieve higher contrast and greater consistency with Gutenberg. 

I’d rather we take a fully confident, well-considered step forward than rush into a solution that’s truly only a couple weeks old. For that reason, I think it would be beneficial to hold off on deploying #47153, #47150, and #34904 until after 5.3. This would allow us all to spend a little more time considering the full range of options for the colors, focus states, button styles, and form borders. Once we solidify around a direction, pushing the changes to a feature plugin (either in the Design Experiments plugin or elsewhere), to fully test before moving to a core patch seems like a solid approach. 

This is obviously not solely a design team decision, so I’d like to also ensure the accessibility folks are on board with this delay as well. Ideally, given a bit more time, we’ll end up with a higher-contrast, more accessible solution for this UI that’s even stronger than the explorations so far.