When I designed plasticbag.org I decided that I wasn’t going to pay any attention to the restrictions of the web-safe pallette. I mean – it’s a personal site, right – I’m not selling anything – to an extent it doesn’t matter if a few people find the site visually offensive. Jason Kottke seems to have taken a similar approach – that the personal site is an arena for a certain amount of experimentation that one can’t make when one is designing for a company, and hence the web-safe palette is less important.
I’ve just read an article over at Webmonkey called: “Death of the Websafe Color Palette?”. The two authors performed some experiments on different platforms between 256 colour displays, High Colour displays and True Colour displays – to see if it was necessary to still design within the web palette at all. [If you don’t know what the web palette is, then the article will explain all.] What they found was alarming.
Apparently only 22 colours actually remain completely consistent cross browser, cross platform and cross colour depth [The Really Safe Web Palette]. Every other colour renders improperly when placed next to a .gif of (in theory) the same colour on one or more system.
I’ll provide an example: the curved tab-like shape that forms the top of this column of text. If you look at this page using anything other than a true colour colour depth, that image appears to be a very different colour from the text background. It is errors in rendering like this that are supposed to be avoided by using the web safe palette.
It looks like we have a long way to go before we can cheerfully mix images and cell backgrounds using any colour over every colour depth. At least these figures are relatively reassuring (even if they only represent a general trend in the right direction):
“The most recent numbers we’ve seen from StatMarket put True Color (24- and 32-bit) at about 38 percent of users; High Color (16-bit) at about 56 percent; and 256-color users are at about 6 percent.”