Good Color Practice - Part 3 of Chapter 2 from Web Graphics for Non-Designers (4/7) | 2 | WebReference

Good Color Practice - Part 3 of Chapter 2 from Web Graphics for Non-Designers (4/7) | 2

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Web Graphics for Non-Designers, Chapter 2: Using Color

PC vs. Mac

Gamma correction can be an issue when designing for the Web, and has a particular effect on the appearance of colors you use. Gamma correction, generally speaking, is a modification to the color saturation and brightness as displayed on your monitor, and can vary significantly from computer to computer. The most notable difference exists between Macintosh and PC computers. Macs usually adjust to a gamma correction factor of 1.8, while most PCs begin with a darker default of 2.5.

So, how does this affect your work? If you are designing on a PC for an audience featuring a majority of Mac users, you should adjust your gamma correction to emulate the default Mac of 1.8. Conversely, if designing on a Mac for a PC-heavy audience, it would be advisable to temporarily bend your gamma correction to something closer to 2.5. Finally, given that most of the people on the Web are using PCs, your gamma for a very general audience should be set to 2.5 also.

However accurate you might believe your gamma correction to be, if you are not designing to best represent your color scheme and image brightness to the majority of your audience, you are contravening one of the web commandments: design with the audience in mind!

Previewing your design with the default gamma correction settings of another platform is a straightforward process. For example, in Photoshop for Windows CTRL-Y allows you to easily toggle between the default and your current proof setting.


Frequent computer users would be familiar with the differences between LCD and CRT screens used by today's computer users. The difference that first and foremost affects your decisions in creating a site is of contrast. When viewing a Liquid Crystal Display, commonly used in notebook/laptop screens, at the usual angle, near-white colors such as cream, beige, or silver can appear indistinguishable from white. This is rarely a crucial issue, as vital components such as text never appear as light cream on white. It can, however, create unintended effects as cell backgrounds, alternating table row colors, and watermarks disappearing into your background color, and it is something to be aware of. With a vague audience definition, it is unlikely to trouble you, but if you are charged with designing a resource specifically intended for users of laptops, then keep an eye out and be sure to check your color choices on both CRT and LCD screens.

Soft butter-colored background on a CRT

Cream color is lost on an LCD

CRT: Soft butter-colored background provides focus for a key headline.

LCD: The focus is lost as the cream background disappears.

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Created: December 16, 2002
Revised: December 16, 2002