Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Usability

Web Design Reference Guide

Hosted by

Web-Safe Palette and Gamma

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

For a long time, designers designed to the Web-safe palette, also known as the browser-safe palette and 216 palette. This fixed palette contained a core 216 colors with 40 additional colors set aside for the system user to create the 256-color palette found on 8-bit systems. Using colors beyond the 256 was a surefire way for users to see colors that are different from what the designer intended. A user on an 8-bit system was limited to the Web-safe colors. Thus, the solution was to design to the Web-safe palette to ensure that the Web site looked the same on all computers.

Few computers are limited to the 8-bit colors, freeing designers to get color creative. By no means does this say we have to abandon the palette and run free. The key is to pick colors to work together for creating an aesthetic pleasing site. . If an audience consists of low-end machines, the Web-safe palette is useful, but this is unlikely today.

Despite the progress in systems having the capability to display more than 8-bit colors, designers still have to give up on the idea that the colors will look the same on every system. Many variables in hardware and software are to blame for the disparity in displaying colors. For example, those using Macs see colors darker than they are because the gamma reading is set lower than PCs. Though gamma settings can be adjusted using software, few actually take the step to modify it