I started exploring my browsing habits to better understand why certain websites grab my attention. As aware of UX dark patterns as I am, I grew tired of mindfully noticing when they want to “nudge” me into certain behaviors with vibrant colors and obscuring others by making them less visually appealing.

While I was trying to unsubscribe from yet another unwanted email marketing list, chasing for the “unsubscribe” link hidden in plain sight, I noticed that grayscale works well for techincally showing the information required of advertisers, yet obscuring it among the flashy colorful action calls.

My previous attempt at decreasing the time I spend on social media was leveraging Stylus to hide certain parts of websites, e.g. related videos and comments on YouTube. It manages user styles, with a simple checkbox menu for enabling and disabling them.

Since I use FireFox, switching to grayscale is fairly simple. I created a new stylesheet that applies to all websites and added a single property for body. (you can also add a filter in other browsers)

body {
  filter: grayscale(100%);

It’s easy to turn it off when I want to. And it encouraged me to fix minor annoyances on some websites. I stopped using AdBlock when I switched to FireFox and I now use targeted display: none on elements I find distracting.

A minor caveat of the extension is that it doesn’t work on all websites, because it’s a WebExtension. I found that it only makes me appreciate it more when I encouter a page that doesn’t apply my user styles.

One more surprising issue I encountered is that the grayscale filter sometimes breaks scrolling. I tried debugging it on my website, thinking it might be caused by some legacy code or a hidden Stylus property, but adding it directly to the body also changed scrolling behavior.