Good Color Practice - Part 3 of Chapter 2 from Web Graphics for Non-Designers (2/7)
Web Graphics for Non-Designers, Chapter 2: Using Color
Today the concept of the web-safe palette is largely in the past, along with the now antiquated 8-bit video cards. The palette was first published in around 1996, but currently usage of 8-bit video hardware sits at around 3% of users (statistic according to TheCounter.com).
|Other (unknown, 4-bit, etc)||2%|
To compound the issue, however, the 16-bit hardware supporting high color, and used by around half of all users, has a color set that is not a subset of the 24-bit true color palette in the same way that the 8-bit and web-safe palettes are. Because of this, color shifts arise for this large percentage of users when 194 of the 216 supposedly web-safe colors are used. A color shift is a difference in rendering of color. While a user with 24-bit video hardware might see your colors as you intended, others with less advanced hardware (and thus a restricted palette) might see a "similar" color. This shift will be quite obvious to many users.
Unfortunately, in some browsers these shifts of an unsupported color to its nearest supported neighbor can occur differently for an HTML-defined color and an image-defined color. This leaves 22 colors that are really web safe. If you are interested in learning a bit more about this, Webmonkey have an article which will fill you in: Death of the Websafe Color Palette, see http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/00/37/index2a.html?tw=design.
In more practical terms, this means that attempting seamless transitions with web-safe colors between the background color of an image, and the background color of a table cell (for example), is not entirely recommended. Approximately half of your users will probably witness a visible seam.
Ultimately, the web-safe palette is not entirely web-safe, and subsequently, adherence to its color-range is now a less common practice.
Created: December 16, 2002
Revised: December 16, 2002