19 July 2005

websafe & reallysafe colours (colors)

link from webreference

The "Websafe" palette is a bit controversial. It is a set of 216 colours that are, supposedly, guaranteed to appear as intended on all graphical displays when used in HTML, CSS, and images embedded in Web pages. Many Web developers believe that sticking to these colours is one of the holiest commandments in the Web design scripture.

This was mostly a concern when most computers had 8-bit colour displays; these days, most people run at 16-bit or 24-bit colour. Although these bit-depths render the Websafe palette pointless, dithering and quantization bugs in browsers and operating systems still cause problems in 16-bit displays (16-bit display, also known as "High Colour" mode or "Thousands of Colours," is generally problematic). Extensive testing has led to a new palette, called "Reallysafe," whose colours are guaranteed to appear correctly on all displays and all browsers. As the Reallysafe creators say, I hope you like green.


In my opinion, using these colours exclusively limits your creative freedom unnecessarily in order to cater for bugs in certain browsers or operating systems. The actual effects of using other colours is not as catastrophic as you might expect, and will only affect a handful of your users. Clever use of alpha channels and GIF transparency in your images will also minimize the effect to the extent of making it unnoticeable.

For more information on colours and palettes, check out some of these pages: If you want help picking colours for your pages, try HTML with Style's own Colorizer, a Web-based tool that can help you preview multiple colours against a background and convert between notations. The World of Color in Dmitry's Design Lab contains many tips and tricks for selecting and using colours. The WebReference.com article Optimizing Web Graphics contains an interesting page on picking a palette for your images. Another article, Communicate with Colour, discusses principles of colour selection and matching. This article on WebMonkey is where the Reallysafe palette was first unleashed upon the world, and also contains information on the Websafe palette, its origins and the reasoning behind its use.

the correct spelling of colour in the english language is COLOUR

unfortunately this article contains regional american variations

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